Commission commends human rights emphasis in Angiolini review

The Scottish Human Rights Commission welcomes Dame Eilish Angiolini’s Independent Review of Complaints Handling, Investigations and Misconduct Issues in Relation to Policing. Her report recommends substantial reform of the way police complaints are handled to improve access to justice, accountability and public confidence.

The Commission welcomes the emphasis placed on human rights in the report. Dame Eilish’s recommendations draw on the Commission’s engagement with the review and previous evidence to the Scottish Parliament, as well as European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence.

In particular, we welcome the following recommendations to address human rights concerns in relation to police complaints:

  • The Police Scotland Code of Ethics, which sets out the standards expected of all of those who contribute to policing in Scotland and expressly references human rights, should be incorporated into law.
  • All deaths and serious injuries in police custody, deaths following police conduct and other serious criminal allegations against the police, should be reported to the independent Procurator Fiscal.
  • Meaningful victim involvement and constructive engagement with complainers must be supported. To facilitate this the report recommends access to free, non-means tested legal advice, assistance and representation for the immediate family of someone who died in custody, from the earliest point following the death and throughout any subsequent Fatal Accident Inquiry or Public Inquiry.
  • The independent Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (“PIRC”) should be given greater powers to improve independence and public confidence.

Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, Judith Robertson, said:

“Implementation of the recommendations contained in Dame Eilish’s report would be a significant step towards embedding human rights into police investigations, strengthening access to justice and accountability, as well as better enabling the police in Scotland to meet their human rights obligations.

“We commend the participatory approach adopted by the review. Evidence was taken from members of the public with direct experience of making complaints against the police, as well as from police officers who had been the subject of complaints, and a wide range of civil society and public bodies.

“We look forward to hearing the Scottish Government’s response to the report in due course. As the recommendations are considered, we hope to see a continuation of the participative approach, bringing the perspectives of those who have lived experience of police complaints to the fore.”

Read the report published on 11 November 2020.