Complaint Handling Reviews

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Report - Police Scotland – PIRC/00717/23

26 Jun 2024

The Complaints

The complaints in this case arose following the death of the applicant’s sister. The applicant was dissatisfied with various elements of the investigation into his sister’s death.

We have reviewed the handling of nine complaints, namely that: 

  1. On 14 July 2023, following the death of the applicant’s sister, officers failed to correctly identify next of kin and inform the applicant and his sister’s biological family of her passing;

  2. On 17 July 2023, officers informed the applicant of the death of his sister in a public area within a police station showing no empathy towards him or his family;

  3. In July 2023, officers attempted to deny the applicant the opportunity to view his sister in the mortuary;

  4. Between July and August 2023, officers continued to request the consent of a named individual when dealing with matters surrounding access to the applicant’s sister’s property, when this individual had no legal rights to the property;

  5. On 5 August 2023, officers failed to follow correct legal practices and changed the next of kin status from the applicant to his sister’s partner by documenting them as common-law partners;

  6. In August 2023, officers attended at the funeral home, instructed them to cease from the contracted arrangements with the applicant, and instructed the director not to allow the applicant to enter and view his sister;

  7. Between July and August 2023, officers involved themselves with the Registrar’s Office advising them to prevent the applicant from completing the necessary paperwork to register his sister’s death and delaying the scheduled funeral;

  8. In September 2023, despite having a court order, police prevented the applicant from getting the keys for his sister’s property, stating they were giving others time to challenge the court order despite the legalities of the court order being that it should be challenged prior to being granted; and

  9. On over 10 occasions between July and October 2023, officers have failed to respond to calls made by the applicant via 101, or emails sent by him relating to the investigation into the death of his sister.

Police Scotland's Decision

Police Scotland did not uphold any of the applicant’s complaints. 

Our Findings

We have found that Police Scotland handled complaints 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8 to a reasonable standard, but not so complaints 6 and 9. 

Consequently, we have made a recommendation to address the shortcomings in Police Scotland’s handling of complaint 6. In summary, we have recommended that Police Scotland reassesses the available information and provides the applicant with a further response to this complaint.

Our recommendation should be implemented by Police Scotland within two months of the date of this report.

Police Bodies: Police Scotland

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