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Police scrutiny to be transformed in Scotland, new report suggests

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner has published a strategic plan for 2019 to 2022.

The Pirc report made a number of recommendations for reform over the next three years (Andrew Milligan/PA)
The Pirc report made a number of recommendations for reform over the next three years (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The way police officers in Scotland are scrutinised will be transformed over the next three years, according to a watchdog.

In a new report, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) has outlined five areas for potential reform in its strategic plan for 2019 to 2022.

These include a focus on the level of discretion granted to Police Scotland in handling complaints against officers, the powers afforded to Pirc investigators in Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)-directed investigations, as well as those afforded in probes against retired officers.

It also identified increased engagement by Pirc investigators with victims and the families of those whose article two or three human rights may have been breached, and increased compliance in policing and police oversight bodies with all human rights principles.

Commissioner Kate Frame said she believes further refinement of the watchdog’s remit and powers is needed.

“These next three years will provide the opportunity to transform the way in which police actions are independently scrutinised in Scotland,” she said.

“Our current operating model was established with some degree of haste in the wake of the decision to form a single police service of Scotland.

“Experience over the five years since then has convinced me that further refinement of our remit and powers would be beneficial – a view we shared with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders during our 2016–2019 strategic cycle.”

The outcomes of both these pieces of work will shape the future powers and remit of the Scottish model of independent police scrutiny Kate Frame

Ms Frame added: “Clearly, each of these factors has the potential to affect the nature and volume of our work.

“However, at this time it is impossible to predict with any certainty when and to what extent that might be.

“The outcomes of both these pieces of work will shape the future powers and remit of the Scottish model of independent police scrutiny.”

Police Scotland was formed in 2013, replacing eight regional constabularies as part of a centralisation of Scotland’s police service.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We welcome the publication of Pirc’s strategic plan and the proposals put forward for the next three years.

“The commissioner identifies areas for potential reform and, while we cannot pre-empt the outcome of the independent review into complaints and conduct being led by Rt Hon Dame Elish Angiolini, we expect some of these will be considered.

“Issues around complaints and conduct were also picked up within the Justice Committee’s report on police reform, which we will respond to in due course.”

PA

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