Posted: Monday 26 June 2017

Commissioner tells Police Scotland to reassess handling of complaint following mutilation of cat

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) has recommended that police look again at their handling of a complaint from a woman who said they failed to carry out a proper investigation after her neighbour's cat was mutilated and drowned.

The woman also complained that she was not updated as to the outcome of the enquiry.

Following a Complaint Handling Review (CHR) 601.17 published today (26 June 2017), the PIRC recommended that Police Scotland issue the woman with a fresh response as their original justification to her, for not bringing criminal charges against the person responsible, was not adequate.

The review, also recommended that she was provided with a further response which fully addressed whether she was kept updated regarding the investigation.

The incident at the centre of the complaint took place in September 2016. The woman had been looking after her neighbour's cat while she was in hospital recovering from a leg injury. A male neighbour collected the cat from the woman on 19 September after returning from holiday and 2 days later its remains were found in a food waste bin.

The woman contacted the cat's owner who called the police. When officers attended they spoke to the male neighbour who admitted killing the cat and he was subsequently detained under the Mental Health Act 2003 because of his erratic behaviour.

The man was not formally cautioned or charged in connection with the incident after officers making enquiries with the staff who treated him said  he was suffering from impaired judgement and allegedly lacking in any "criminal capacity". No further police action was taken. The woman then submitted her complaint in writing to Police Scotland on 20 October 2016.

In its review, the PIRC said that the decision taken by the officers not to caution and charge the man failed to take into account the serious circumstances of the case, namely that a cat was severely mutilated and drowned before its remains were disposed of, which could potentially amount to a serious animal welfare offence under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.

In addition, it said that as both the police and the SSPCA are investigative bodies who report the facts of a case to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), it should fall to the COPFS to assess the evidence available, including the witness evidence and/or testimony of the health care professionals who made this assessment regarding the man's state of mind.

Neither of the woman's complaints were dealt with to a reasonable standard and two recommendations were made.

Two further CHRs were also published.  

In 536.16 , one complaint was reviewed regarding an email conversation between the complainer and a police officer who was investigating allegations of theft and vandalism at the applicant's home.

At the time of the alleged crimes, the complainer was on holiday and had left her home in the care of the daughter of a family friend. The woman alleged that an unauthorised party had taken place in her home. She complained that an email she received from the officer investigating her case was insensitive, dismissive and showed an apparent lack of impartiality.

The review found that the complaint was not dealt with to a reasonable standard and one recommendation was made.

In 626.16, the complaint arose from the applicant reporting to the police that his sheep had ingested poisonous  cuttings left on the ground by his neighbour.

The complaint was found to be dealt with to a reasonable standard. No further action was required.





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