News In Focus
Police complaints figures back up
8 October 2012
Complaint allegations made against Scottish police officers increased by 13% in the year to 31 March 2012, according to figures released today by the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland.
The rise follows a fall of 8.8% in the previous year.
The report, Police Complaints: Statistics for Scotland 2011-12, reveals that a total of 4,379 complaint cases containing 7,933 allegations were received by the eight territorial police forces operating in Scotland, up from 7,009 allegations for the previous year.
The most common allegations disposed of during the period were irregular procedure (36.9%), incivility (15.3%) and neglect of duty (11.6%). “Irregular procedure” covers complaints that the police are not carrying out their duty well, such as taking a less than detailed statement or not following a particular line of inquiry. “Incivility” is rudeness in manner of speech, language or demeanour. “Neglect of duty” relates to complaints that an officer has failed or neglected to perform a duty, such as failing to submit a report following an investigation.
Complaints cases referred to the area procurator fiscal fell during the year from 649 to 479, down 26.2%, proceedings being taken in 39 cases or 8.1%. In 2011-12, 152 complaint allegations resulted in misconduct proceedings against the officers involved and a further 29 allegations led to criminal convictions.
The largest force, Strathclyde, accounted for 31.2% of complaints, a lower proportion in previous years: it received the lowest number of cases per 10,000 population at 6.1, with Tayside Police the highest at 11.4 cases per 10,000 population, and Northern and Central forces also receiving a higher proportion of cases by this measure. The average for Scotland is 8.4 cases per 10,000 population.
Professor John McNeill, the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland, said: "While it is disappointing that that both cases and allegations increased this year, I am happy that the longer term picture remains one of declining numbers of complaints about the police in Scotland. Reasonable people understand that the police face challenging circumstances daily and inevitably they will sometimes get it wrong. What is important is that the public has a route to voice their complaint and that police have a framework in place to identify learning and to implement improvements to procedures and practices as a result of complaints received."
Looking ahead to the birth of the single national police force next year, he added: “We must now start to visualise how to take best practice within a national police service and apply that across the country. My office is already part of a Scottish Government-led project to create the oversight and governance mechanisms we need to hold the single force to account. A consistent standard of reporting, recording and handling complaints from the public is central to that.”
The full report and individual reports for each of the eight Scottish forces can be downloaded from the PCCS website www.pcc-scotland.org from today.