PIRC Annual Report 2022-2023
The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) publishes Annual Report for 2022-2023.
The Report commends the return to many working practices that had been paused due to the COVID pandemic including face-to-face training, job interviews, Continuous Professional Development (CPD) days and partnership liaison events.
It highlights a continuing trend from last year of an increase in the workload of the PIRC Investigations team, with 911 investigation referrals, the largest number ever received, resulting in a 51% increase from 2021-2022. The increase in referrals also resulted in a 10% increase in investigations being undertaken in 2022-2023.
The increase is primarily due to the implementation of a recommendation arising from the Dame Angiolini’s report which required all on-duty allegations of assault made against police officers and police staff to be transferred from the police to PIRC. The increase led to the establishment of a new Investigations Assessment Unit to assess all referrals from policing bodies to determine whether more detailed investigation is required.
The Investigations team assessed all referrals and made an investigation decision within five working days of receipt of relevant information in 98% of all referrals, exceeding the strategic objective of 90%.
In 2022-2023, PIRC also undertook three major and far-reaching investigations on the instruction of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). These included an investigation into the police involvement in relation to the tragic shooting that occurred in Skye in August 2022, resulting in the death of one person and serious injuries to three others.
The significant increase in workload, and the three major cases, impacted on the ability of the Investigations department to achieve its stated strategic objective of completing 80% of investigations within a three-month period with 64% of such investigations being concluded within this time period.
The report also provides insight into some of PIRC’s investigatory work, with a case study focusing on the use of firearms.
Commissioner Michelle MacLeod said,
“Our teams work diligently to determine whether police responses are proportionate and justified. I am confident the case study included in this year’s annual report will help to raise awareness of the complex nature of our work and highlights our focus on the positive areas of policing, as well as areas where lessons can be learned.”
The report also reaffirms the continuing increasing trend for police officers being called to deal with persons experiencing mental ill health.
The Reviews team received 256 applications for a Complaint Handling Review (CHR) and examined 953 individual complaint allegations, the highest number of individual complaints reviewed in a single year. As a result of some older legacy cases, the overall number of CHR cases finalised within our strategic objective of 80% within four months of receipt of the Police case fell short with 69% of such cases being concluded within this time period. However, for those CHR applications received and concluded in 2022-2023, we met the target in 92% of cases.
PIRC improved its performance for CHRs, with the average timescale to complete cases reducing from 4.6 months in 2021-2022 to three months in 2022-2023 – a 35% decrease. The report also highlights a positive improvement in Police Scotland’s handling of complaints from the public, with 74% of complaints found to be reasonably handled by the police, the highest since the establishment of the single police service.
Commissioner Michelle Macleod continued,
“As we move out of the Covid-19 pandemic and into a more settled way of hybrid working, I would like to thank staff for their continued efforts to keep up a high level of service in the face of increasing workloads and difficult cases.
“Significant work was undertaken in 2022-2023, with an in-depth review of our performance data, demand forecasting and a review of the operational functions of PIRC.
“This evaluation included benchmarking with other similar oversight organisations and took account of delays out with the control of PIRC and the impact of major, extensive investigations.
“This was an extremely valuable piece of work. The findings and recommendations of the review informed our strategic objectives for 2023-2025.”
Commissioner Michelle MacLeod concluded:
“This report emphasises the difficult choices and transitions the organisation has faced in 2022-2023. It underlines the need for PIRC to be adaptable when faced with a climate of increasing demand and fiscal constraints, to ensure we continue to provide robust scrutiny of policing in Scotland.”
Notes to editors
Dame Angiolini Report
The Dame Angiolini Preliminary Report (June 2019) and Final Report (November 2020), delivered a wide range of recommendations for improvements to systems, procedures, and the legislative framework. This included recommendations around complaints handling, investigations, and misconduct issues.
Further details are available at Police complaints, investigations and misconduct - Police - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)