Guidance for police

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Audit Report of Police Scotland on the triage of Complaints about the Police 2023

26 Apr 2023


Police Scotland handle approximately 6,500 complaints each year. The way in which an organisation handles complaints is illustrative of how it values good customer service. Dealing with complaints timeously, effectively and empathetically can restore a complainer’s confidence in the organisation. 

The Dame Elish Angiolini Report2 (DEA Report), published in November 2020, recommended regular audits of Police Scotland’s complaint handling procedures as part of an armoury of system safeguards.

In particular, it recommended that the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) should conduct an annual audit of the triage within Police Scotland’s Professional Standards Department (PSD) of complaints against the police to ensure that matters that can be resolved by Front Line Resolution (FLR), or misconduct, or potential criminality are being properly identified and routed accordingly, and to provide assurance that Article 3 and Article 5 cases are correctly identified and reported to the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) .

PIRC and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) have statutory responsibility for ensuring that Police Scotland has efficient, effective and suitable complaint handling procedures to deal with complaints from members of the public. It was, therefore, agreed that PIRC and the SPA, would carry out a joint audit . This enabled both organisations to fulfil their statutory duty, whilst avoiding duplication of effort. 

The triage of public complaints about Police Scotland is undertaken by the National Complaints Assessment and Resolution Unit (NCARU) that sits within PSD. It is responsible for receiving, recording and assessing complaints made by members of the public. Accordingly, this audit focuses on the triage and assessment of complaints by the NCARU.

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