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Scotland considers holding misconduct hearings in public

An overhaul of Scotland’s misconduct system could lead to most hearings being held in public.

The Scottish Government is considering public hearings for police officers accused of gross misconduct.

A consultation by the Ministry of Justice has been launched following recommendations of an independent review of police complaints handling, investigations and misconduct in Scotland by Dame Elish Angiolini.

The consultation on a proposed Police Complaints, Investigations and Misconduct Bill will seek views on key reforms including:

Misconduct hearings could also be accelerated as part of the legislation, as well as new powers for the watchdog body led by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc).

It is proposed that Pirc would be able to recommend that officers be suspended.

Officers representatives are set to question whether the response is proportionate, given the small number of incidents and public satisfaction in the outcomes.

During 2020-21, the Pirc saw a continuing improvement in Police Scotland’s handling of complaints, with 71% of complaints found to have been reasonably handled by the police; the highest figure since the inception of the single force.

A total of 78 independent investigations were carried out in relation to incidents involving the police, 46 of which were COPFS (Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service) instructed investigations.

Justice Secretary Keith Brown said the reforms were needed to ensure the Service was “accountable, transparent and trusted”.

He said: “It is in everyone’s interests, from police officers and staff to the general public, that we have robust, clear and transparent mechanisms in place for investigating complaints or other issues of concern.”

The leader of frontline officers told Police Oracle officials could expect a response - and didn't welcome the announcement.

David Hamilton, Chair of Scottish Police Federation said: “Once we get the opportunity to examine the detail of these proposals we will of course participate in the Scottish Government’s consultation.”

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