Posted: Thursday 15 June 2017

Urgent recommendations following alleged sexual assault have been implemented


PIRC recommendations for Police Scotland to urgently update their procedures following a failure to carry out a medical examination into an alleged sexual assault have been implemented.

The woman originally contacted Police Scotland on 18 March 2016 to report an alleged assault which took place up to nine days earlier. She was willing to undergo a medical examination but had expressed her wish for the examination to be carried out the following morning.

Due to miscommunication during the shift handover between police supervisors the woman was not contacted to complete the medical examination she was previously offered.

Following a review of the woman's complaint, Complaint Handling Review (CHR) 476.16, Police Scotland acknowledged the problem of miscommunication in this case and confirmed that the officers involved were provided with advice regarding the handover of information to help minimise the possibility of a similar occurrence in the future.

Due to the timescales involved in the reporting of the alleged assault, the Commissioner took the opportunity to examine Police Scotland's Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on Sexual Crimes Investigation to establish the timeframe for undertaking forensic examinations.

Procedures advise that for sexual assaults this should be done within seven days as there is unlikely to be a forensic capture outwith this period. However, the Policy Support Unit within Police Scotland confirmed that their SOP relied on the ACPOS Scottish Investigators Guide to Serious Sexual Offences, which was archived in November 2015, and has not been replaced by a new guidance document.

Accordingly, the Commissioner recommended that Police Scotland immediately update the relevant SOP to reflect current practice and procedure and communicate this essential information to all officers involved in the investigation of reports of sexual crimes as a matter of urgency.

Recommendations were also implemented in relation to two separate unrelated CHRs concerning Police Scotland officers acting aggressively.

In 613/16 the applicant complained that an officer did not explain the purpose of their visit to their home and acted in a dismissive and aggressive manner. Following a CHR the PIRC recommended that Police Scotland further question the officers involved, specifically in relation to the accusation of aggressive behaviour, and issue the applicant with a detailed response.

In 354/16 a complaint arose when officers attended an address in connection to a noise complaint. In the CHR application the applicant complained that a Police Scotland officer was extremely aggressive, threatening and intimidating in his manner and conduct. The PIRC recommended that Police Scotland issue a further response to fully reflect the available evidence.

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