Glasgow & West Scotland

Strathclyde Police 'mishandled' investigation complaint

Scotland's largest police force has been criticised for mishandling complaints over the way an officer investigated claims of internet abuse.

The police complaints commissioner, Professor John McNeill, said there had been "various deficiencies" in how Strathclyde Police handled the case.

These included recording a series of allegations as a single complaint.

Professor McNeill said the Strathclyde force was now taking measures to improve its local complaint handling.

The case which gave rise to the commissioner's report centred on a woman who alleged that offensive comments about her had been posted on Facebook by her dead partner's family.

The woman, who was not named in the report, was involved in a dispute with the family over the ownership of her former partner's possessions.

The woman eventually made a number of complaints about a constable who was looking into her allegations.

Deficiencies 'remedied'

She also complained that a local inspector investigating these complaints did not carry out a full and impartial investigation.

It was only when the commissioner requested the case papers from Strathclyde Police that the force's own professional standards department reviewed the original complaints.

The commissioner said the department "identified and remedied various deficiencies in the initial handling of the complaints" by the local force.

In his report, Professor McNeill accepted that Strathclyde Police was taking measures to improve the standard of its local complaint handling through a newly-created complaints assurance group.

He said: "I am a firm believer in the benefits of local complaints handling in certain circumstances, when done well it can deliver swift action and resolution for the person making the complaint.

"It can also bring about improvement through learning for the police themselves. It is regrettable that this was not the case on this occasion."

Professor McNeill said he had issued statutory guidance to Scotland's police forces in April, which included a section on how and when local resolution of complaints should be considered.

He added: "My office is currently contributing to a training package run by the Scottish Police College on local complaint handling and I expect to see improvements in this area in the coming year."

Supt Val McIntyre, from the Strathclyde force's professional standards department, said: "Strathclyde Police is committed to ensuring the public remain confident in its handling of complaints.

"Our complaint-handling process identified the issues raised and steps were taken to rectify the deficiencies.

"We welcome any opportunity to make continued improvement and enhance local complaint-handling procedures through our internal assurance groups and continued learning."

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