Who our functions extend to
Our functions currently extend to Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner:
About - Police Scotland
Police Scotland is the national police service of Scotland. It covers the largest geographical policing area in the UK (28,168 square miles) and numerically is the second largest police force in the UK with around 22,000 officers and staff working together. It was established on 1 April 2013 under the provisions of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 and has an annual budget of around £1.1 billion.
The Chief Constable of Police Scotland is Jo Farrell who has overall responsibility for the administration and management of police operations in Scotland. The Chief Constable is supported by a command team of 4 Deputy Chief Constables, a Deputy Chief Officer, Assistant Chief Constables and Directors.
Police Scotland make around 100,000 arrests each year in Scotland. These numbers have declined significantly from a figure of 204,947 custody episodes in 2009/10, in parallel with overall long-term reductions in recorded crime in Scotland. In most cases, when a person is arrested by the police and taken into custody they will be photographed, fingerprinted, and have a DNA sample taken via a mouth swab. These samples are known as ‘criminal justice samples.’ The information derived from these criminal justice samples is stored as ‘biometric data’ in several police computer databases with automated searching capabilities. This enables information to be shared with all other U.K. police forces to help identify offenders and solve crimes.
Police Scotland has a ‘Biometrics Oversight Board’ chaired by Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, Crime and Operational Support. This strategic group convenes to oversee the use of all forms of biometric data by Police Scotland.
Further information on Police Scotland can be found on the Police Scotland website.
About - The Scottish Police Authority (SPA)
The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 created the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and set out its 5 core functions:
- To maintain the Police Service
- To promote the policing principles set out in the 2012 Act
- To promote and support continuous improvement in the policing of Scotland
- To keep under review the policing of Scotland; and
- To hold the Chief Constable to account for the policing of Scotland
Membership of the Scottish Police Authority consists of up to 15 members (including a Chair) appointed by Scottish Ministers through the public appointments process. The Chair of the Scottish Police Authority is Martyn Evans.
The SPA Forensic Services also provide a range of forensic services to Police Scotland and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC). The SPA Forensic Services has a Director of Forensic Services, Fiona Douglas, and around 500 highly skilled scientists and staff. The services provided include biology, DNA profiling and analysis, chemistry, drugs, toxicology, fingerprint comparison, finger mark enhancement, firearms, imaging and multimedia services and scene examination.
Most of the work of SPA Forensic Services has been accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) for more than 20 years. This provides third party quality assurance on the technical and managerial standards in place. SPA Forensic Services work jointly with Police Scotland to maintain the Scottish DNA Database (SDNAD) which is linked to the U.K. National DNA Database (NDNAD), and IDENT1 which is the common U.K. fingerprint database used in policing.
Further information on the Scottish Police Authority and SPA Forensic Services can be found on the SPA website.
About - The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC)
The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) was introduced in 2013 when the single Police Service of Scotland (Police Scotland) was introduced. The PIRC Commissioner is Michelle MacLeod. The Commissioner is appointed by Scottish Ministers, is independent of the police and delivers an impartial service. The role of the PIRC is to provide independent oversight, investigating incidents involving the police and reviewing the way the police handle complaints from the public. The aim of the PIRC is to secure public confidence in policing in Scotland.
PIRC can investigate:
- Incidents involving the police, directed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). These include deaths in custody and allegations of criminality made about police officers.
- Serious incidents involving the police, at the request of the Chief Constable, the Scottish Police Authority, and policing bodies operating in Scotland. These include the serious injury of a person in police custody, the death or serious injury of a person following contact with the police or the use of firearms by police officers.
- Allegations of misconduct by senior police officers of the rank of Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) and above, if requested by the SPA.
- Relevant police matters which the Commissioner considers would be in the public interest.
PIRC investigators have the powers and privileges of a constable when investigating a matter directed by COPFS. This includes the powers to arrest (and acquire biometric data such as DNA, fingerprints, and photographs), question, report for prosecution and seize productions (including firearms, drugs, and any other materials or documents).
Further information on the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner can be found on the PIRC website.