Calls for investigation into Police Scotland complaints

Daniel Johnson, Labour's justice spokesperson, has written to the Justice Secretary to call for an investigation into the handling of complaints of Police officers.

The calls come on the back of "disturbing" reports that complaints against officers were allegedly incorrectly recorded and processed, meaning officers avoided independent investigation.

In a meeting of Holyrood's Justice Committee, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner,Kate Frame, told MSPs that there had been "several instances" of Police Scotland failing to correctly report criminal allegations against officers as required.

Ms Frame said she also had concerns about the “level of police discretion, which continues to allow them to investigate some of their own actions”.

She said: “Recently, we’ve seen some evidence of serious criminal allegations which have been inappropriately recorded.

“We have examples of a complaint where someone had been unlawfully detained. That was recorded by the police as a quality of service complaint.

“There is another example of an allegation of rape, that was recorded as incivility.

“There is a further example of someone who had been punched twice on the face that was recorded by the police as excessive force rather than assault.”

She added: “So in all of those cases, the only reason and the only way in which we found out about how the recording process had taken place was because the complainers had made a complaint to the police, which had been dealt with, they felt dissatisfied and they came to us seeking a complaint handling review.

In a statement to reporters, Labour's Daniel Johnson added: “Clearly something would have to go seriously wrong in Police Scotland for serious complaints about the handling of a rape allegation as ‘incivility’ – and unlawful detention to be branded a ‘quality of service complaint’."

“The use of such trivial definitions would rightly disgust the public and raise serious questions regarding possible manipulation of the complaints processes."

He added that Ms Frame's allegations should be "urgently reviewed".

Alan Speirs, Assistant Chief Constable Professionalism and Assurance, defended Police Scotland's record, commenting:“Police Scotland deals with over 6,000 complaints annually and all complaints against the police are fully recorded and subject to fair and rigorous investigation. Every complainer has a right of recourse in circumstances where they are dissatisfied, and are provided by Police Scotland with details of how to seek further action."

“It is notable that only 5% of complainers seek these further steps through Pirc."

“Incidents are referred to Pirc in line with current legislative requirements and over the last year 421 matters were referred to Pirc with 36 of them investigated. This demonstrates a commitment to a high level of transparency whereby over 90% of matters referred are not subject of further investigation by Pirc.”

Speirs also denied that the force had incorrectly handled an allegation of rape, adding:“This is categorically incorrect. The allegation was recorded by Police Scotland as rape and thoroughly investigated.”

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