Friday, July 23, 2010

Scotland’s Eight Police Boards to be audited by Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland

The Police Complaints Commissioner has announced he intends to audit all of Scotland’s eight Police Boards & authorities with a combined budget of over £1 billion. The police forces in Scotland range in size from Strathclyde Police, which covers 12 individual local authority areas with a combined population of over 2.3 million, through to the Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary, which covers the single council area of Dumfries and Galloway with a resident population of around 146,000.

The membership of Police Boards in Scotland comprises elected councillors from the relevant local authorities. The number of members on each Board varies between police services from as many as 34 members on Strathclyde Police Authority, to 11 members on the Dumfries and Galloway Police, Fire and Rescue Committee.

The Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 places a duty on the Commissioner to secure efficient and effective complaint handling arrangements as well as the practice of relevant authorities in relation to other matters.

Media release from Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland :

Commissioner to audit “complaints capability” of Scotland’s police boards

22 July 2010: Scotland’s eight police boards and authorities are to be audited by the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland.

The Commissioner’s staff are working with board members using a combination of questionnaires and fieldwork to build a complete picture of how police boards are fulfilling their statutory responsibility to oversee how the police deal with and learn from complaints from the public. He is also benchmarking how different boards handle complaints about chief officers and complaints about the boards themselves.

Conveners of the police boards are being asked to provide details of how they hold the Chief Constables to account; the effectiveness of police communications with the local community; and how they select and train the councillors who make up the membership of the police boards.

Speaking about the audit Professor John McNeill said:

“Since I took up office almost a year ago I have stressed that the whole area of how we increase public confidence in the police is a shared agenda. How well we hold the police to account in relation to complaints from the pubic is an important part of that. Ultimately, the findings will feed into a much larger piece of work I am undertaking to reform and modernise Scotland’s police complaints system and how complaints can be used to drive up standards. I am beginning to see signs of an acceptance that meaningful progress can only take place when we move away from blame to a learning culture and this means decoupling complaints from the disciplinary process.”

A final report on the findings will be published by the end of the year.

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