25 March 2019 | Complaint Reviews
Report - Police Scotland PIRC/00554/17
The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) reviews the way in which policing bodies handle complaints made about them. Our role is not to investigate the circumstances which led to the complaint but to review how the complaint itself was handled.
The complaints in this case arose during a neighbour dispute over parking which led to the applicant’s wife (Mrs A) being arrested. We have reviewed nine complaints, namely:
- that on several occasions, between 20 and 22 September 2017, officers failed to communicate why they were unaware of previous incidents;
- that officers failed to carry out a sufficient enquiry into a neighbourhood dispute;
- that on 22 September 2017, officers did not take cognisance of Mrs A’s mental illness and did not adequately explain their intentions;
- that officers failed to tell Mrs A why she was arrested;
- that officers removed Mrs A’s hairband causing her discomfort;
- that officers refused Mrs A water, both a glass of drinking water and soapy water to wash her hands;
- that on 23 September 2017, at the police office, officers took 6 hours to seek medical attention for Mrs A;
- that officers failed to communicate to Mrs A when she would be going to hospital;
- that whilst in her cell, an officer pulled Mrs A up roughly from her bed.
Police Scotland’s Decision
Police Scotland upheld complaints 2 and 3. The remaining seven complaints were not upheld.
We have found that Police Scotland handled complaints 2, 3, 4, 5 and 9 to a reasonable standard but that complaints 1, 6, 7 and 8 were not reasonably handled.
Consequently, we have made three recommendations to address the shortcomings in Police Scotland’s handling of complaints 1, 6 and 8 as follows:
1. We recommend that Police Scotland obtains further accounts from the officers who responded to calls from the applicant’s neighbour on 20, 21 and 22 September 2017 to establish what they knew about the ongoing issues before they attended. Police Scotland should then issue a further response to the applicant which assesses whether the level of information the officers had was acceptable under the circumstances.
6. We recommend that Police Scotland issues a further response to this complaint which takes account of all available information. If Police Scotland agrees with our assessment that Mrs A did ask to wash her hands, the further response should explain whether such a request would be considered reasonable, and whether any refusal to allow her to wash her hands after using the toilet was in accordance with the custody procedures.
8. We recommend that Police Scotland seeks an account from the custody nurse to clarify what she told Mrs A about when she would be taken to hospital. Police Scotland should then issue a further response to this complaint that takes account of the nurse’s statement.
We expect our recommendations to be implemented by Police Scotland within two months of the date of this report.
Police Bodies : Police Scotland