The Commissioner has received a referral from the Scottish Police Authority regarding allegations of misconduct about the Chief Constable.

The content of the referral is now being assessed to establish if an investigation is required.

Whilst this process is underway, it would be inappropriate to comment further.

In addition, the Commissioner is currently carrying out two separate investigations into allegations of gross misconduct about the Chief Constable, both are which are ongoing.

Notes to editors:

The Police Service of Scotland (Senior Officer) (Conduct) Regulations 2013

Q.        What is misconduct?

A.        Misconduct means conduct which amounts to a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour as outlined in Schedule 1 of the 2013 Regulations.

Q.        What is Gross Misconduct?

A.        This means a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour, as detailed in Schedule 1 of the 2013 Regulations, which is so serious that dismissal may be justified.

Q.        What do these Standards of Professional Behaviour cover?

A.        They cover:  Honesty and Integrity; Authority, Respect and Courtesy; Equality and Diversity; Use of Force; Orders and Instructions; Duties and Responsibilities; Confidentiality; Fitness for Duty; Discreditable Conduct and Challenging and Reporting Improper Conduct. 

Q.        What is the Commissioner's involvement?

A.        A misconduct allegation against a senior officer would be made to the Scottish Police Authority in the first instance. The Authority must assess the matter. If it assesses that the conduct would, if proved, amount to misconduct or gross misconduct, it must decide whether the allegation is to be investigated. If it is to be investigated the Authority must refer the matter to the Commissioner for assessment.

Q.         What does the Commissioner do then?

A.        When a misconduct allegation is referred to the Commissioner they must assess whether the conduct which is the subject matter of that allegation would, if that conduct were proved, amount to:

  • a) misconduct;
  • b) gross misconduct; or
  • c) neither.

Where the Commissioner assesses that the conduct which is the subject matter of the misconduct allegation would, if proved, amount to gross misconduct, the Commissioner must investigate the allegation.

Q.        What does the Commissioner do when the investigation is complete?

A.        The Commissioner must determine whether, in the investigator's opinion, the senior officer has a case to answer in relation to the misconduct allegation.

The Commissioner must submit a report to the Authority.  The report must contain:

  • a summary of evidence
  • the investigator's opinion on whether the allegation should be referred to a misconduct hearing

Q.        Does the Commissioner arrange the Misconduct Hearing?

A.        No. The Commissioner only investigates the misconduct allegations and then reports back to the Scottish Police Authority.  On receipt of the investigator's report, the SPA must determine whether the senior officer has a case to answer in respect of misconduct, gross misconduct or neither.  Where the Authority determines that there is no case to answer it may take no action, take improvement action, or refer the matter to be dealt with under procedures maintained under regulation 23 of the Police Service of Scotland (Performance) Regulations 2103. Where the Authority determines that there is a case to answer in respect of either misconduct or gross misconduct, it must refer the misconduct allegation to a misconduct hearing.

 PIRC investigators have all the powers of a constable, including:

  • Seizing police CCTV, Airwave footage, 999 recordings
  • Seizing custody records, Command and Control incident printouts, etc
  • Seizing officers' witness statements
  • Seizing public and private space CCTV
  • Carrying out house-to-house enquiries
  • Seizing mobile phone footage
  • Obtaining medical and other specialist opinion
  • Interviewing/re-interviewing police and civilian witnesses
  • Carrying out 'open source' social media searches

 During the course of an investigation, our staff may:

  • Attend and preserve scenes and oversee forensic examination
  • Establish family liaison
  • Attend post-mortems
  • Issue witness appeals


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