Recommendations made by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner to Police Scotland concerning a man’s phone calls to a police contact centre have now been implemented.
The man contacted the PIRC to request a Complaint Handling Review (CHR 047/17) after being unhappy with the way police dealt with complaints he made regarding an incident involving his estranged wife.
The man’s wife, who did not live at the same address as her family, did not have a permanent residence and was known to have used homeless accommodation or occasionally sleep in the summerhouse of her family’s garden. At the time of the man’s complaints, his wife was awaiting trial for an assault charge and was subject to special bail conditions preventing her from entering the family home.
The man and his daughter telephoned Police Scotland on more than ten occasions to report concerns for their wife and mother in March 2017, as they were concerned she was sleeping rough, may be suicidal and CCTV evidence had shown she had breached her bail conditions by entering their home.
They had also requested she be recorded as a ‘Missing Person’ as she had not been in contact and they were unaware of her whereabouts.
The PIRC review focused on the man’s complaints after telephoning Police Scotland’s Service Centre. He was unhappy that Service Centre Advisors gave his daughter more information about his wife’s welfare than they gave to him.
He also said that when he telephoned the Service Centre with concern for his wife, he would only be told that she was “safe and well” even though she had not yet been traced. However, when his daughter telephoned with concern, she was provided with more information; specifically that her mother was not in police custody but had actually been in court some days previously.
The PIRC review concluded that the complaints were not handled to a reasonable standard. It was recommended the man’s complaints be reassessed and a further response issued to him.
Police Scotland has since reassessed the complaints and sent a further response to the man advising that both complaints have now been upheld and apologising for the service he received.
In a separate CHR (611/16), a complaint arose from a woman’s detention and arrest for an alleged breach of the Communications Act 2003. Three complaints were considered: 1. that officers were hostile to her and defensive of the man reporting the allegations; 2. that officers did not carry out a proper enquiry and in particular did not seize a computer belonging to the reporter; and 3. that the officers had a conflict of interest as the woman making the complaint believed they knew the reporter personally.
The review found that complaints 2 and 3 were handled to a reasonable standard while complaint 1 was not. A recommendation was made for the police to seek further accounts from the officers involved in order to specifically address the woman’s concerns and then issue a fresh response based on the information gathered. This recommendation has since been implemented.