Holding to Account CoverHolding to Account


The Commissioner has laid out a package of measures that, if adopted, will see minimum standards in complaint handling and oversight of police across all eight police boards in Scotland.

In the Holding to Account report the Commissioner made thirteen recommendations. These range from adopting best practices, such as  publishing procedures for handling complaints, to far-reaching changes that could see complaints sub-committee meetings routinely open to the public.

The report follows an audit by the PCCS that looked at how police boards hold Chief Constables to account in terms of recording and monitoring complaints. The audit also considered the organisational arrangements that boards have in place to fulfil their responsibilities in relation to scrutiny and governance of complaints.

The Commissioner has recommended that a protocol is agreed between police boards and their forces in relation to the provision of statistical and analytical complaint data. This would be particularly valuable in relation to trend analysis, according to the Commissioner who stated:

There is some evidence of boards using complaints performance data to identify trends and instigate action plans but my audit revealed that half of Scottish boards have no staff to independently evaluate performance in relation to complaints.

The audit also reveals differing levels of knowledge and expertise on individual police boards, leading the Commissioner to propose that defined selection criteria for members should be introduced to ensure that the complaints sub-committee had the right mix of skills and experience.

One aspect of the Commissioner's work is to drive continuous improvement in relation to complaint handling by the police and police boards. The recommendations are an important part of a process that will bring about a minimum standard in complaint handling and oversight by police boards across Scotland.