Report finds police watchdog’s complaints handling procedure deficient

Kate Frame

The Scottish Police Authority’s complaints handling procedure has been severely criticised in a new report.

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) has published her report containing a series of findings and recommendations following an audit of the Scottish Police Authority’s (SPA) procedures for the handling of complaints about senior police officers, SPA staff and SPA board members.

The audit report examines all complaints received, progressed and concluded by the SPA between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2017 which the complaints department assessed fell within its remit.

Commissioner Kate Frame said: “The audit has highlighted a number of deficiencies within the SPA’s current complaint handling practices.

“Decisions on complaints were made which lacked clarity and transparency and in many cases there was insufficient explanation to demonstrate how the decision was reached.

“The average time taken by the SPA to conclude complaints and preliminary misconduct assessments was excessive and disproportionate, as was the emphasis placed on members of the public by the SPA to produce evidence in support of their complaint.”

She added: “Furthermore, I consider that the SPA requires to put in place guidance on how complaints which it assesses to be ‘whistleblowing’ should be progressed.

“I also recommend that the SPA should introduce robust quality assurance procedures for all aspects of its complaints handling to ensure that complaints are dealt with appropriately and progressed in the correct manner.”