SPA Response to PIRC Report


Death of a vulnerable man in Edinburgh, March 2016

SPA member George Graham, who chairs the Authority's Policing Committee and dedicated Governance and Assurance Group on call handling, said:

"While in the vast majority of cases the officers and staff working in police call handling provide a very good service, this PIRC report into a case from March 2016 highlights a poor and disjointed police response. It is appropriate that Police Scotland have offered an apology for that, and we send our continued condolences to the friends and family of Andrew Bow.

"In the 16 months since this took place, the SPA has carried out an enhanced level of oversight and scrutiny as Police Scotland has sought to modernise its call handling and response. That work has been underpinned by the advice of HMICS who have carried out over 100 site visits to call centres in the course of their work.

"There is more still to do and, in a human operation such as this, misjudgements can still be made. While an individual incident should not define a service, it also cannot be ignored.

“I have spoken with DCC Johnny Gwynne about this report, and SPA will be seeking assurance from Police Scotland that the service as it stands now in summer 2017 is in a position to address the issues identified by PIRC in a much more coherent and effective way than it did in spring 2016. That will be done through our dedicated assurance group and reported back to the full SPA Board in August.

"Further, while the breadth of performance information provided by Police Scotland has improved in the last year, we will be seeking further progress from Police Scotland on providing more data and assurance on the end to end resolution of incidents by the service, as well as the speed and handling of calls.

"I also welcome the detail set out in the PIRC report as it brings home once again the expectations on the police service in responding to vulnerability in our society. The recently approved Policing 2026 strategy puts improving and prioritising the service's response to vulnerability front and centre. As this case shows, addressing that effectively will require a joined up approach across the organisation, and not simply in call handling. This too will be a key focus for SPA oversight as Police Scotland move forward into the implementation phase."

PIRC Report