Posted: Tuesday 20 October 2015

More than sixty per cent of PIRC staff are non-police officers


The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) employs 59 staff. In common with other police oversight bodies, the PIRC employs a blend of staff drawn from police and non-police backgrounds. Currently, 49% have previous experience as police officers while the remaining 61% hold other relevant skills and experience.

There is a slightly higher proportion of former police officers within the Investigations department as it is recognised that a highly skilled team, familiar with undertaking serious and complex investigations, is required to deal with the significant nature of the work undertaken.

Those, such as former police officers, with expertise in dealing with situations such as deaths in custody, crime scene management, road traffic matters, firearms incidents and family liaison support bring a depth of experience and specialist skills to the investigations referred to the PIRC. Currently, 49% of staff within the Investigations Team previously served with one of the former eight Scottish legacy forces.

The remaining 51% of the Investigations Team comprises of staff drawn from a variety of investigatory backgrounds, including recruits from the Fire and Rescue Service, the Care Inspectorate, the former UK Borders Agency, Trading Standards and the Armed Services.

From the outset, the PIRC has operated a introduce and train new recruits who have no previous investigatory experience. This has proved to be extremely successful with four former trainees now working as established members of the Investigations Team. Two further recruits are currently undertaking the programme and the PIRC hopes to continue to develop new recruits through this channel. 

Commissioner Kate Frame said:

With the creation of a single police service in April 2013, it was widely recognised that there needed to be a robust system in place to independently investigate matters involving officers serving in Police Scotland and other policing bodies operating here.

My post was created to provide that impartial scrutiny.

As Commissioner, and former head of the Crown Office Criminal Allegations Against the Police Division, I lead an organisation that is independent of the police and which delivers its functions with complete transparency and thoroughness.

A condition of the appointment to the role of Commissioner is that the post holder must not be, or have been, a member of specific policing bodies.

The overall profile of the organisation is that 39% of the staff are former officers from the eight legacy forces or other policing bodies, with the larger proportion of 41% having been recruited from civilian roles.

We undertake high profile and complex investigations in which our investigators gather evidence, take statements from witnesses, recover productions and investigate complex lines of enquiry.

Former police officers work alongside investigators from a range of civilian backgrounds.

The ex-police officers have a high level of investigatory expertise in dealing with situations such as deaths in custody, crime scene management, road traffic matters, firearms incidents and family liaison support.  They also provide a unique perspective and insight on the policing system.

Naturally, in most if not all police oversight bodies, a number of former police officers are employed as they bring highly relevant skills and investigatory expertise to the job.

In Scotland, in Crown-directed investigations, the PIRC's independence from the police is reinforced by virtue of the fact that the Lord Advocate, who is the head of the system for the prosecution and investigation of deaths in Scotland, directs the Commissioner to conduct independent investigations on his behalf.

The Lord Advocate retains responsibility to ensure that any investigation is thoroughly and effectively carried out, and if further enquiries are needed before making a decision on whether any proceedings should be instituted, he will instruct those enquiries".

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