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Published: 11 January 2024

Complaints & Conduct Annual Report 2022/23

Report Summary

This is the Authority’s third Complaints and Conduct Committee annual report, which provides information and insights about numbers, performance and assurance in relation to complaints received during 2022-23.

To access the full document please open the PDF document above.

To view as accessible content please use the sections below. (Note that tables and some appendixes are not available as accessible content). 

Committee Chair's Foreword

This is the Authority’s third Complaints and Conduct Committee annual report, which serves to highlight trends in respect of complaints received during 2022-23, performance in respect of complaints handling during that period and provide assurance in respect of Authority scrutiny in this important area, recognising its key link to public confidence in policing in Scotland.

Introduction of annual reporting in this regard was prompted by the Final Report on the ‘Independent Review of Complaints Handling, Investigations and Misconduct Issues in Relation to Policing’, undertaken by Lady Elish Angiolini, which recommended that:

  • the SPA Complaints and Conduct Committee's scrutiny function should be reported on in the SPA annual report, drawing out particular trends, highlighting improvements or concerns and using complaints data as an indicator of communities' satisfaction or dissatisfaction with policing services (Recommendation 31)
  • in order to ensure public confidence in the police, the SPA should confirm each year in its annual report whether or not in its view, based on an informed assessment by the Complaints and Conduct Committee and evidence from the relevant audits, the Chief Constable has suitable complaint handling arrangements in place (Recommendation 59)

In respect of Recommendation 31, as with last year, a high-level summary has been included in the 2022-23 SPA Annual Report, this more detailed, Committee-specific report aiming to supplement this approach.

As previously noted, there will be opportunities to further develop future reports as work continues to be progressed by partners in implementing recommendations from the Angiolini Review.

In respect of Recommendation 59, whilst an initial joint audit by the Authority and the PIRC recently reported on its findings, there is ongoing engagement with Police Scotland in respect of the developing content of Committee assurance reports. As such, it is expected that the Authority will be able to provide a more informed assessment as to the suitability of Police Scotland complaints handling arrangements next year. Nevertheless, there is clear evidence of progress during 2022-23.

Throughout 2022-23, and into 2023-24, the Committee have continued to discuss, probe and challenge key themes and activities critical to the management of complaints and conduct issues. A strong focus was placed on enhancing the complaints data presented to the Committee, for example in relation to contextual factors, such as diversity data, to enable deeper insight and analysis.

The Committee have sought assurances from a range of data sources, such as PIRC complaint handing reviews, the joint PIRC and SPA audit, and the reintroduction in 2023-24 of SPA dip sampling, on the quality and timeliness of complaint handling by Police Scotland.

The Committee also receives a range of reports which are providing greater insight into the prevalence and nature of all complaints raised about the police workforce. In addition, the Committee is seeking evidence of how this data is being used to identify themes, drive organisational learning and continuous improvement activity. With regard to conduct matters, the Committee have explored how a range of regular and targeted processes and practices in place in Police Scotland, such as recruitment, vetting and training, and the Prevention & Professionalism programme and Continuous Integrity Screening initiative, all work together to ensure that Police Scotland officers and staff are adhering to the highest standards of professional behaviour, and misconduct is identified and addressed in a timely and appropriate fashion.

The Committee has also strengthened its understanding and oversight of sexual misconduct within policing, with scrutiny taking place both publicly and, in much more detail, privately at Committee.

The Committee is grateful to Police Scotland for its efforts to improve the information and data being reported to the Committee over the last year. Due to the detail being reported, much of this oversight has taken place in private sessions in line with the Authority’s Corporate Governance Framework (section 20). Going forward, to build confidence in this important area, a priority for the Committee is to enhance public visibility of the insights and assurance being reported to the Committee.

Katharina Kasper
Chair – Complaints and Conduct Committee

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