Posted: Friday 14 July 2017

PIRC makes recommendations in social media complaint


The Police & Investigations Review Commissioner (PIRC) has recommended that police reassess a complaint from a woman who claimed she and her husband had been the victim of negative social media posts.

After making a complaint to Police Scotland, the woman then contacted the PIRC to request a Complaint Handling Review (CHR 000032/17) after being dissatisfied with the findings.

The woman's complaints arose from various social media posts made in September 2016 by her son's father-in-law - a former employee of her husband's - that were reported to the police, who then took the decision to class the allegation as non-criminal.

The woman said she was provided with conflicting information as to how the allegation was being dealt with and that she received poor service from officers at the police station who did not answer telephone calls and dealt with her at the back of the station.

Following a review of three complaints, it was found that one was dealt with to a reasonable standard while two were not.

In relation to the social media posts, the police investigation concluded that the posts did not mention the woman or her husband by name and therefore the Police Scotland Crime Registrar determined the comments did not constitute a crime. The review found that Police Scotland did not appear to consider all available social media posts and that their response to the woman did not fully explain the reasoning behind their decision. It was therefore recommended that Police Scotland revisit the complaint by reviewing the evidence as a whole and providing the woman with a fully reasoned response on whether a crime was committed, taking into account the other social media posts.

The woman had also made a complaint that she was provided with conflicting information as to how the incident was being dealt with. After completing a review the PIRC recommended Police Scotland seek additional accounts from the officers involved to confirm what information was actually relayed and issue the woman with a further response.

Finally, the applicant complained that she was provided with a poor service from officers at the police station. The review found that this complaint was dealt with to a reasonable standard by Police Scotland and that no further action is required in this connection.

Six other CHRs were also published.

621.16 The complaints in this case arose from an incident in which the applicant's car was stopped by two police officers. Two complaints were reviewed, namely: (1) That an officer accused the applicant of speeding but later dropped this; and (2) That an officer threatened the applicant with arrest.

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

606.16 The complaints in this case arose from the applicant's detention by officers of Police Scotland. Two complaints were considered: 1. That the applicant's detention was disproportionate and unnecessary; and 2. That the applicant, a serving Police Officer, was treated differently than a member of the public would have been in the same circumstances.

It was found that both complaints were dealt with to a reasonable standard. No recommendations were made.

521.16 The complaints in this case arose from the applicant's arrest for threatening and abusive behaviour. Five complaints were considered, namely: 1. that the police failed to retrieve CCTV which would have supported the applicant's innocence; 2. that Police Scotland did not carry out a sufficient enquiry into the disturbance leading to the applicant's arrest, resulting in the applicant being incorrectly reported to the Procurator Fiscal; 3. that the applicant was kept in custody to appear at court without a reason or sufficiency of evidence; 4. that an insufficient investigation conducted into the circumstances of the charge of vandalism libelled against the applicant's son, as his son was not present when the damage occurred; and 5. that the applicant considers that Police Scotland are "supporting" the hotel's claim for damages, in excess of the value of the damage actually caused, without sufficient evidence.

The review found that two complaints were dealt with to a reasonable standard while three complaints were not. Three recommendations were made in this connection.

513.16 The complaints in this case arose from the applicant being charged and issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) in connection with a road traffic offence. Two complaints were reviewed, namely: (1) that the two officers who issued the applicant with FPN were incorrect in their statements when they said the female officer approached her car and charged her as the applicant alleges it was the male officer; and (2) that a note was left with the applicant's neighbour regarding her Copy Complaint.

The review found that one of the complaints was dealt with to a reasonable standard and one was not. One recommendation has been made.

484.16 The complaints in this case arose from the applicant's interview under caution for drugs offences. Three complaints were considered: 1. that the applicant was not provided with sufficient time to arrange legal representation; 2. that the applicant was not cautioned in respect of a number of criminal allegations which he was subsequently questioned on; and 3. that the applicant was told he would be detained if he did not attend voluntarily for an interview, however does not believe there were sufficient grounds to detain him.

The review found that two complaints were dealt with to a reasonable standard while the remaining complaint was not. A reconsideration direction was issued in this connection.

328.16 The complaint in this case arose from the applicant's conviction for an offence under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. A single complaint was considered: that Police Scotland failed to investigate the applicant's allegation that witnesses at his trial had lied under oath and produced false evidence.

The review found that the complaint was not dealt with to a reasonable standard, however it was not considered necessary to make any recommendation in this connection.

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