Police Scotland’s ability to investigate itself brought into question

Police Scotland's ability to investigate itself brought into question

Kate Frame

The head of the police watchdog has said the public would prefer it if the force did not investigate itself.

Complaints about officers are dealt with internally by Police Scotland, though accusers can apply to the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) if they are dissatisfied.

Head of the the PIRC, Kate Frame, has suggested all allegations should be handled independently rather than first going through the police themselves.

Ms Frame told The Sunday Post: “There is a discussion to be had about whether the police should investigate themselves. I think that from the public’s position they would feel an independent investigation, which has not been undertaken by the police, would be preferable.”

The former prosecutor added that Scotland should take its cue from south of the border and have an external organisation deal with whistleblowing.

She said: “It is a fairly hierarchical structure in the police and there would appear to be incidents where officers are frightened to speak out.”

Without disclosing cases she said that there had been instances where serious allegations against officers had not been passed to prosecutors.

Some officers have retired before or during investigations into their conduct, including former Chief Constable Philip Gormley.

Ms Frame said having an external organisation would end this “anomalous position”.

She said: “The Crown directs us to carry out an investigation of those still in post and, on occasion, have directed the police to investigate those who have retired. The anomalous position that creates is that you have two separate agencies pursuing the same lines, trying to interview the same witnesses and trying to secure the same productions.

“I think the public would expect one organisation would undertake the whole investigation.”

Iain Livingstone, interim chief constable, said: “Police Scotland investigates all complaints by officers and staff robustly. We fully recognise the importance of supporting our staff and ensuring we provide for their welfare. We are investing heavily in a staff wellbeing programme which is currently being rolled out across the force.”

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