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Police boards and authorities to face Commissioner "audit"

22 July 2010

Scotland’s eight police boards and authorities are to be audited by the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland, Professor John McNeill, in order to test thier effectiveness in reviewing complaints procedures within their remit.

Professor McNeill’s staff are working with board members using a combination of questionnaires and fieldwork to build a complete picture of how police boards are fulfilling their statutory responsibility to oversee how the police deal with and learn from complaints from the public. The Commissioner is also benchmarking how different boards handle complaints about chief officers and complaints about the boards themselves.

Conveners of the police boards are being asked to provide details of how they hold chief constables to account; the effectiveness of police communications with the local community; and how they select and train the councillors who make up the membership of the police boards.

Professor McNeill said: “Since I took up office almost a year ago I have stressed that the whole area of how we increase public confidence in the police is a shared agenda. How well we hold the police to account in relation to complaints from the public is an important part of that. Ultimately, the findings will feed into a much larger piece of work I am undertaking to reform and modernise Scotland’s police complaints system and how complaints can be used to drive up standards.

"I am beginning to see signs of an acceptance that meaningful progress can only take place when we move away from blame to a learning culture, and this means decoupling complaints from the disciplinary process.”

A final report on the findings will be published by the end of the year.

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