The Scottish Police Federation represents all police officers in the ranks of constable, sergeant, inspector and chief inspector, police cadets and special constables; over 18,500 people, 98% of all police officers in Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice appoints a new Police Investigations & Review Commissioner
Kate Frame has been appointed as the new Police Investigations & Review Commissioner.
A Solicitor and current head of the Crown Office’s Criminal Allegations Against the Police Division, Ms Frame will take up her new role as the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) in August.
Ms Frame will succeed current Commissioner, Professor John McNeill who vacates office on 15 August.
Notes on Police Investigations & Review Commissioner
On 1 April 2013, the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 brought together Scotland’s eight police services, the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency and the Scottish Police Services Authority into the single Police Service of Scotland.
At the same time, the remit of the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland (PCCS) was expanded to include investigations into the most serious incidents involving the police. To mark this change the PCCS was renamed the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC).
Previously in Scotland where an independent investigation was required, a Chief Constable was able to ask another force to come in and investigate, or in the case of criminal investigations, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) could ask another force to investigate. With a single police service, where an independent investigation is required, the PIRC is able to carry out investigations at the request of the Chief Constable, the Scottish Police Authority or under the direction of the COPFS.
Typical PIRC investigations might involve deaths in police custody, serious road collisions involving police vehicles or criminal offences committed by police officers. The Commissioner may also investigate serious incidents involving the police at the request of the Chief Constable or the Scottish Police Authority. This may include deaths following contact with police and discharges of firearms, including tasers, by police officers. When PIRC investigators are carrying out an investigation, they have the powers of a constable. This means that they can administer cautions, arrest/detain, search, apply for warrants and make requirements under the terms of the Road Traffic legislation.
The Police Service of Scotland (Senior Officers) Conduct Regulations 2013 allow for a member of the PIRC’s staff to carry out investigations in respect of conduct matters relating to senior officers (ACC and higher ranks). The Police Service of Scotland (Conduct) Regulations 2013 do not include this provision and therefore the PIRC does not investigate conduct matters relating to ranks below ACC.
The Commissioner also has the power to review the way police bodies operating in Scotland deal with non-criminal complaints made by members of the public, including those made about individual officers or the standard of service provided by the police.
In preparing his report, known as a Complaint Handling Review, the Commissioner looks at the evidence and forms a view as to whether the complaint was dealt with to a reasonable standard. An anonymised copy of the report goes to the person who made the original complaint and the officer or officers who were the subject of the complaint. The Commissioner’s findings are also published routinely within anonymised reports on the PIRC website.
As a result of his review the Commissioner may make recommendations to the police. The types of recommendations routinely made are that further investigation is carried out, that an apology is provided or that changes are made to practices and procedures. It may also be recommended that officers involved in a complaint should receive training or advice.
In summary, the Commissioner has three distinct areas of responsibility:
reviewing the way that all police bodies operating in Scotland handle non-criminal complaints made by members of the public.
investigating certain matters involving the police when directed to do so by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service or at the request of the Chief Constable or the Scottish Police Authority
investigating allegations of misconduct by a senior police officer if the Scottish Police Authority requests him to do so.
The legislation also allows the PIRC to investigate relevant police matters where the Commissioner considers it would be in the public interest to do so.
Links to further information: