Complaints against police handling of grievances increase
The number of people who said police were not handling their complaint properly has increased, figures showed today.
Applications from the public asking for their complaint to be reviewed by Professor John McNeill, the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland, rose by 19 per cent to 133 for the year ending 31 March, 2010.
During the same period Professor McNeill wrote 69 reports involving more than 300 complaints about the behaviour of police and quality of service received by members of the public.
He found that in two out of three cases, the complaints had been handled "reasonably" by police, according to the commissioner's annual report.
Out of the applications for the year ending 31 March, 44 were for Strathclyde Police followed by 21 for Northern Constabulary.
A spokeswoman for the commissioner said: "This is because Strathclyde is the largest force by number of officers and the most densely populated.
"If you look at the most recent statistics available for the average number of complaints per 1,000 police officers, Strathclyde is the same as the average for Scotland as a whole at 362 complaints."
Professor McNeill said: "The role of the Police Complaints Commissioner is to consider and review the way police organisations handle complaints from the public."
In his foreword for the Annual Report, released today, Professor McNeill also called for a fundamental shift in the way complaints are handled by the police.
He said: "One of the major pieces of work for next year will be the publication of Statutory Guidance to Scotland's police that will help to create a police complaints system that embraces learning rather than blame."
Later in the foreword he wrote: "As part of my stock take, I have considered my role in modernising police complaints handling, as called for by the Justice Secretary."In this vein, I am pleased that work is under way to establish the changes that could be made to create a police complaints system that embraces learning rather than blame.
"I look forward to the next 12 months and the prospect of securing real change in police complaints handling in Scotland."
Bill Aitken, MSP, Tory justice spokesman, said: "Considering the complaints culture which has been positively promoted over the last ten years it is indeed surprising that there were not more complaints.
"Professor McNeill is on the right lines in that he is seeking to show the police where they have gone wrong rather than make a big issue of it which is a most constructive approach."
Complaints which have been upheld by the commissioner include the handling of the investigation into the death of 14-year-old cyclist Sam Beasley from Corrie, Arran.
In May, Strathclyde Police apologised to his parents after Mr McNeill upheld six of the 20 complaints they made about how police dealt with the tragic incident in July 2003 when their son was hit from behind by a motorist.
The key failing upheld was a complaint about police allowing the driver and her car to leave the scene shortly after the incident.
Another complaint upheld was that of special constable Campbell Douglas, 44, who complained about how fellow officers investigated the theft of his car.
Mr Douglas, from Irvine, Ayrshire, carried out his own inquires after his Vauxhall Nova was stolen and discovered officers from Strathclyde Police had lied about carrying out door-to-door inquiries.
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