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Bills and Laws

Police (Ethics, Conduct and Scrutiny) (Scotland) Bill

As introduced, this Bill would require the police to have a code of ethics, make changes relating to the handling of police conduct, increase the functions of the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner and introduce an advisory board for the Commissioner.

The Bill is at Stage 1



The Bill makes changes in four key areas:

  • Ethics of the police
    • Requiring the police to have a code of ethics
    • Placing a duty of candour (a requirement to act openly and truthfully) on the police in primary legislation
  • Police conduct
    • Enabling changes to some of the processes in place for handling situations when a police constable may not have behaved appropriately. These are referred to as ‘procedures for misconduct’. The changes include:
      • the Commissioner having a greater role in those procedures
      • those procedures being applied even after someone has left the police
      • an independent panel deciding misconduct cases against senior officers
    • Requiring the creation of an advisory list and barred list of people who are, or have been, subject to proceedings under the procedures for misconduct
  • Functions of the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner
    • Increasing the range of possible functions of the Commissioner, including looking into:
      • some complaints that have been made to the police
      • incidents involving police from outwith Scotland
      • a practice or policy of the police, if it’s in the public interest to do so
    • Clarifying some issues in the existing legal framework around the functions of the Commissioner
  • Governance of the Commissioner
    • Introducing an advisory board to the Commissioner to give them advice on how the business organisation which supports the Commissioner should be run

Why the Bill was created

The Bill was developed in response to recommendations made by an independent review of complaints handling, investigations and misconduct in relation to policing. The review’s purpose was to make recommendations that would ensure the system is fair, transparent, accountable and proportionate. It’s overarching aim was to strengthen public confidence in policing in Scotland.