Glasgow & West Scotland

Police Complaints Commissioner apologises to Strathclyde Police

The Police Complaints Commissioner has apologised to Strathclyde Police for saying two plain clothes officers had no legal right to stop a car.

Prof John McNeill maintained that the motorway pursuit in an unmarked car was highly inappropriate and posed a risk to other road users.

But he said his initial ruling that the stop had no legal basis was wrong.

Strathclyde Police, which had complained over the remark, said it welcomed the commissioner's apology.

The incident that prompted the complaint to the commissioner happened in January last year.

The driver was pursued for seven miles along a motorway by plain-clothes detectives in an unmarked police car.

It was only when he phoned police himself, that the motorist was told he was being pursued by officers and should pull in.

Public statement

Prof McNeill's subsequent report into the incident was highly critical of the Strathclyde Police officers.

He has, however, admitted that he was mistaken about his opinion about the legality of their actions.

In a statement, Prof McNeill said: "I believe it is appropriate for me to issue a public statement acknowledging an error in one of my findings in that report, which was repeated in a press release.

"While I remain of the view that the officers' actions in pursuing the car were highly inappropriate, breached a prohibition contained within the manual of guidance issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers in 2009 and posed a clear risk to other road users, on the advice of counsel, I accept that my interpretation of the law in relation to a plain clothes officer's power to stop a car was wrong.

"I have today written to the deputy chief constable of Strathclyde Police apologising to him and the officers involved for this error and advising that I no longer insist on the recommendations I made in relation to complaint 1(a) in the report."

Prof McNeill said he had also apologised to the motorist who made the complaint over the error.

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