Following significant efforts to locate the man, the two Constables spoke to a neighbour who raised further concerns and officers were given authorisation by a Sergeant to enter the property through the kitchen window in May 2017.
Police Scotland did not uphold the complaint and the man asked the PIRC to review it.
Our role is to review the way in which policing bodies handle complaints made about them. It is not to investigate the circumstances which led to the complaint or uphold allegations made. When carrying out a Complaint Handling Review (CHR) we consider a number of factors, including whether police carried out sufficient enquiries; their response was supported by the material information available and whether the police response was adequately reasoned.
In our CHR (PIRC/00619/18) report, we found that concerns for the man were raised by his mother, prompting police to carry out a series of checks to locate him, including door-to-door enquiries and reviewing CCTV.
When police arrived at the man’s home they repeatedly knocked on his door, but there was no answer.
Fearing the man was “at risk and vulnerable”, as he had not been seen since the previous day, the officers forced entry to the flat and found the man safe in his bed.
Despite being told his mother and others had expressed concern for his welfare, the man later complained that the officers’ actions were unjustified.
Police said the forced entry was “justified and proportionate” on the basis that in situations where it is believed that someone may be inside a property and unable to answer the door due to illness or injury “it is recognised police procedure” to gain entry by force if necessary without a warrant.
After examining the actions of the officers, our Review Team agreed that the information available at the time suggested there was genuine concern for the man’s welfare which justified the use of force to gain entry to the flat in line with Police Scotland’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). It was concluded that this complaint was handled to a reasonable standard by police.
The man made a further three complaints about a separate matter and we have highlighted shortcomings in the police handling of two of those complaints. Two recommendations were issued to Police Scotland to address the issues identified in dealing with these particular complaints.
We expect all actions issued to Police Scotland to be completed within two months from the date a report is issued.
The report was one of 12 published by the Review Team this week. Of the complaints reviewed, the majority were handled to a reasonable standard.
Recommendations and learning points were made to Police Scotland to address their handling of a small number of complaints which were not.