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Scots police misconduct Bill

by Mark Rowe

The Scottish Government’s Police (Ethics, Conduct and Scrutiny) (Scotland) Bill has been introduced to the Holyrood Parliament in Edinburgh. The SNP says it has the aim of ensuring allegations of misconduct are dealt with more transparently and effectively.

If passed by MSPs, the legislation would see the outcomes of misconduct hearings published online and police officers no longer able to resign to avoid disciplinary proceedings. The Bill would stop officers guilty of gross misconduct from being re-employed in policing by placing them on barred lists, with an advisory list for officers facing an allegation of misconduct and ensures officers can no longer resign to avoid being held to account for gross misconduct allegations. A code of ethics would set out expectations of behaviour, in statute. To oversee these standards, the role of the independent Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) will be widened.

The Bill will deliver on legislative recommendations made by former Lord Advocate, Dame Elish Angiolini, in her independent review of policing.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs Angela Constance said: “Scotland is well served by the exceptional dedication and commitment of Scotland’s police officers and the work they do every day to keep communities safe.

“However, if things go wrong, the police must be held to account and improvements made. The principle of policing by consent, so central to our justice system, is built on this accountability. It is also in the interests of both the public and of the policing family.

“This Bill, if passed, will help strengthen public confidence for example by ensuring officers can no longer resign to avoid being held to account for gross misconduct allegations against them. The vital safeguards set out in this legislation will enhance the professional service already delivered by officers, as they perform their privileged duties to keep us all safe.”


Scotland’s retiring Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone QPM spoke of Police Scotland as ‘institutionally racist and discriminatory’ at a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority Board on May 25.

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