6.1 Overall, compliance with policy and procedures was very high. Although there were the inevitable differences on minor detail no significant breaches were found in any of the cases examined. Further the Inspectors did not disagree with any of the substantive decisions reached.
6.2 It was noted that District Fiscals were not generally informed that there was a complaint against the police in the Area for which they are responsible unless they have been asked to investigate the complaint.
6.3 A significant feature was the high level of withdrawals of complaints before they were submitted to the Area Fiscal. This varied from a high in Glasgow of 56% to the lowest level in Argyll and Clyde of 15%. It was also evident from some completed questionnaires that, on occasion, the reason for the complainer or the witnesses not being precognosed was because they failed to attend. It may be worth asking complainers in the standard letter issued for reasons why they wished to withdraw the complaint.
6.4 It is considered that it would be good practice to show video evidence to complainers if they are seen.
6.5 There was considerable variation on the use of the standard information leaflet although, where it was not used, other methods such as standard letters supplied at least some of the relevant information. We feel it would be good practice to standardise the use of the leaflet.
6.6 Compliance with the Departmental target of completing 90% of cases within 12 weeks was high. Of the sample we looked at only Argyll and Clyde was under target at 78% but the sample size was comparatively small, current Departmental target figures (reproduced at Appendix 2) show Argyll and Clyde at 92%.
6.7 There were apparent significant differences in the approach to the reporting of cases to Crown Office which to some extent reflects the somewhat inevitable subjective nature of the terminology used ie "if the Area Fiscal considers there is substance in the complaint he/she will submit a bound precognition to Crown Office".
6.8 Substance is defined as there being credible evidence to support the allegation whether or not there is sufficient evidence to support proceedings. The corollary of that is where there is sufficient but unreliable evidence the complaint need not be reported to Crown Office. This leaves room for interpretation and may explain the differences in the percentage of cases reported from a high of 15% in Argyll and Clyde to a low of 1% in Glasgow.
6.9 Our remit was to look at the system as it currently operates and make recommendations if appropriate. Some time has elapsed since the last internal review of policy in this area and there appears to be an appetite for change. We accordingly recommend that the time may be ripe to consider a fundamental review of policy and practice in this area.