PIRC revise Statutory Guidance for police complaint handling

Revised statutory guidance for handling complaints about the police in Scotland has been issued  by the PIRC.

The statutory guidance sets out the guiding principles of effective and efficient complaint handling arrangements, provides practical advice to police complaint handlers and encourages policing bodies to utilise the complaints process to raise standards, improve service delivery and increase public confidence.

As such, the revised guidance maintains the ongoing promotion and support of a culture of continuous improvement through learning and development.

Many of the revisions being introduced in the updated guidance, follow the PIRC’s engagement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission and are closely aligned to the recommendations set out by Dame Elish Angiolini in her report:

Independent Review of Complaints Handling, Investigations and Misconduct Issues in Relation to Policing, published in November 2020.

Notably, the central theme of the revised guidance is to remind all policing bodies, operating in Scotland, of their general (and Scotland specific) Public Sector Equality duties, in terms of section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.

The revised statutory guidance emphasises to policing bodies the importance of collection and analysis of equality data, by including it in the guiding principles underpinning effective and efficient police complaint system.

It also provides clear direction for police complaint handlers when supporting vulnerable complainers and those with additional needs, through the process, to ensure they can engage and participate equally.

Ilya Zharov, Head of Reviews & Policy at the PIRC, said:

“The enduring principle of the statutory guidance is for policing bodies across Scotland to recognise the value of complaints and use learning to improve the way they deliver their services.

“Part of that approach is to allow all applicants, regardless of background or individual needs, to be heard equally. This is central to building greater confidence in policing.

"These changes will impact Scottish policing bodies as well as complaint handlers from any other UK-wide policing bodies operating within Scotland. We ask them all to continue to observe and apply the statutory guidance to their complaint handling processes.”

Changes to the statutory guidance come into effect from the date of publication.

A copy of the guidance can be found by clicking www.pirc.scot.