Posted: Tuesday 2 May 2017

Commissioner issues recommendation to police to update procedures for investigation of sexual crimes

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) has recommended that Police Scotland urgently updates its procedures in dealing with the investigation of sexual crimes.

A review of a complaint of how they dealt with a woman reporting an alleged sexual assault found that it was handled to a reasonable standard.

However, during the course of Complaint Handling Review (CHR) 476.16 it was found that Police Scotland's Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on Sexual Crime Investigation relied on the ACPOS Scottish Investigators Guide to Serious Sexual Offences, which states the timescale for victims to be forensically examined is seven days. This guide was archived in November 2015 and has yet to be replaced with a new guidance document. 

The Commissioner recommended that these procedures are updated to reflect current practice and the officers involved in the investigation of sexual crimes informed as a matter of urgency.

The complaint in this case was that despite the applicant informing officers she was willing to undergo a medical examination, this did not take place. Police Scotland acknowledged that a breakdown in communication resulted in the examination failing to happen. The woman was subsequently offered an apology and reassurances the officers involved were provided with corrective advice.

During the review, the PIRC established that despite this Police Scotland carried out thorough enquiries into the woman's allegation. It also emerged the 'window of forensic opportunity' had passed taking into account when the allegation of sexual assault was first reported.

Three other CHRs were published.

In 525.16 the case arose as to how Police Scotland dealt with complaints that building site vehicles were blocking pavements and roads at the applicant's address and that one of the builders verbally abused one of his neighbours.

It was found that both complaints were dealt with to a reasonable standard.

In 402.16 the complaint arose from the response of police officers to the applicant being sworn at by another patron of a public house. The review found that the complaint was dealt with to a reasonable standard.

In 613.16 the complaints arose from officers attending at the applicant's home address to speak with him in relation to an incident.

The applicant complained that an officer was aggressive, dismissed the applicant's point of view and did not adequately explain the reason for the police attendance. The review found that the complaints were not dealt with to a reasonable standard.

Two recommendations were made, once of which includes seeking further accounts from the two Constables involved to respond to the allegation that one of them acted aggressively.


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