Recommendations made by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) to Police Scotland relating to several Complaint Handling Reviews (CHRs) have now been implemented.

A woman contacted the PIRC after being dissatisfied  with the response to her complaint that a laptop and mobile phone belonging to her daughter, seized as evidence for a court case, were not returned.

After receiving a letter from Police Scotland inviting her to pick up her mobile phone from a local station the woman said she was given the wrong phone and that there was no evidence of a laptop ever being seized. The woman also complained that when she questioned this the officer was rude and unhelpful.

After conducting CHR 382/16 it was found that none of the woman's complaints were dealt with to a reasonable standard, therefore two recommendations were made by the PIRC.

Firstly, it was recommended that Police Scotland categorised the complaint regarding the missing property as non-criminal rather than criminal as the woman had never accused Police Scotland of theft, rather she had always assumed the items had been lost in error.

It was recommended Police Scotland's response to the woman addressed the specific concerns raised in her original statement of complaint. It was also recommended that she be provided with the information gathered during the original complaint alongside a clear explanation of whatever conclusions were reached.

The woman never received an acknowledgement of her complaint that an officer was rude to her. Therefore the PIRC also concluded that this complaint was not dealt with to a reasonable standard.

It was further recommended that Police Scotland provided the woman with a response that addressed her allegation and adequately explained whatever conclusions were reached.

A further response was sent to the woman and both recommendations were implemented.

A second CHR (CHR 503/16) arose from an incident in which a man reported his neighbour was in breach of bail conditions. The complaint made was that a police officer acted inappropriately and was unprofessional.

The review found that the complaint was not dealt with to a reasonable standard. The PIRC issued a reconsideration direction and identified a learning point for those involved.

During the CHR it was found by the PIRC that there was a lack of clarity around how the police recorded the complaint, which was found to be vague and open to interpretation.

In order to avoid any ambiguity, the man should have been asked by the  Sergeant  to explain exactly why he believed the Constable to have been "unprofessional" and to have "acted inappropriately". For this and a number of similar reasons, it was concluded that this complaint was not dealt with to a reasonable standard. A reconsideration direction was issued to Police Scotland. It was stated that they should:

  • give full regard to the comments and observations made in the PIRC report;
  • ask the man who made the complaint to provide a further statement clarifying precisely the complaint he wished to pursue;
  • record each complaint raised as a separate complaint about the police, and categorise each appropriately;
  • and investigate the complaint providing a further response, making clear that the man was entitled to request a review from the PIRC if he was dissatisfied.

A Learning Point was issued reiterating the importance of clarifying the exact act or omission being complained about. Taking such an approach helps to ensure that all points of concern are addressed and reduces the likelihood of complaints not being dealt with to a reasonable standard.

The reconsideration of the complaint has now been completed and the complaint resolved to the man's satisfaction.

In a third CHR (CHR 76/17) the complaints arose from a man being issued a Conditional Offer of Fixed Penalty Notice for causing an unnecessary obstruction.

The man contacted the PIRC after complaining to Police Scotland that an officer lost his temper and failed to deal with a situation appropriately; officers refused to accept an explanation for the offence; and that the officers failed to accurately record the situation therefore misrepresenting the facts of the case to the Court.

The PIRC review found that three complaints were handled to a reasonable standard while one was not.

With regard to the man's complaint that officers failed to accurately record the situation, the PIRC concluded that this complaint was not handled to a reasonable standard.

It was recommended that Police Scotland reassess whether the justification provided by the man for his actions should have been recorded by the officers and included within the report that was sent to the Procurator Fiscal.

It was also recommended that a further letter be issued to the man explaining the outcome of this reassessment, confirming whether or not his complaint was upheld.

The recommendation has now been implemented.  Police Scotland sent a further response to the man confirming that his complaint was upheld, and advising that corrective advice would be given to the officers involved and learning circulated.