Police complaints chief gets new powers

The new remit helps make the police more accountable. Picture: Julie Bull
The new remit helps make the police more accountable. Picture: Julie Bull
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An expanded remit for the Police Complaints Commissioner “raises the bar” in how officers are to be held to account, a report has claimed.

Professor John McNeil will now be able to investigate serious incidents involving police, rather than senior officers from other forces leading investigations.

Due to the creation of a new single police service there are no longer separate forces, so the commissioner will lead independent investigations into complaints with his office renamed Police Investigations and Review Commissioner.

Prof McNeil said there was a 27% rise in the number of cases he dealt with in the last year to March 31 2013, where a member of the public asked him to review the way the police had handled their complaint.

Apology

During the year he published 143 reports, of which almost 60% were found to have been handled to a reasonable standard by the police.

In cases where the Commissioner finds a failing in the police handling of a complaint he can make recommendations, including an apology to the member of the public or order further investigations by police.

Prof McNeill said: “The prospect of a single police service in Scotland threw up a number of challenges for me during the year around ensuring that I would have a team that was operationally ready to carry out independent and effective investigations from April 1.

“I am pleased to be able to report that this was achieved, as the addition of an independent investigative function to my remit marks a significant change for Scotland and raises the bar in how we hold the police to account.”