Thursday, 17 December 2015

FOOTNOTES SHOW FALSEHOODS IN PCCS REPORT


 
Case reference: PCCS/00448/08-SP and 0119/10/ PF-SP August 2010
Report of a Complaint Handling Review in relation to Strathclyde Police
under section 35(1) of the Police Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006
Summary and Key Findings
 
In 1993 the applicant made an allegation of fraud against members of staff at his then employer. [1]  These allegations were investigated by Strathclyde Police at the time  [2]  and a report was sent to the Procurator Fiscal   [3]   who determined that no proceedings would be taken.
Between 2001 and the present, the applicant has made criminal and non-criminal complaints about the handling of this investigation. The applicant has also become dissatisfied with the conduct of police officers towards him whilst trying to make these complaints.
In all, the applicant has asked the Commissioner to review 12 complaints.  [4]   The Commissioner has found that with the exception of one, all of these complaints were dealt with reasonably by Strathclyde Police.
The Commissioner made a single recommendation that Strathclyde Police no longer consider or respond to any complaint raised by the applicant that is directly related to any of the complaints addressed in this review.
 


 
 
The Commissioner’s role
Section 35 of the Police Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act (“the Act”) gives the Commissioner the power to examine the manner in which a policing body has dealt with a “relevant” complaint, as defined in the Act.
The Commissioner is independent of the police service and performs his functions in a fair and impartial manner. Before considering a complaint, the Commissioner’s office obtains all papers held by the policing body against which the complaint has been made. These papers are considered alongside information provided by the applicant. The Commissioner then assesses whether the policing body’s handling of the complaint was reasonable in all the circumstances. The Commissioner will look at the entire handling process, from the initial investigation by the policing body   [5]  to the final response issued to the applicant. Among the factors which the Commissioner takes into account are the following:
               
whether the policing body’s response to the complaint is supported by all material information available;
whether in dealing with the complaint the policing body has adhered to all relevant policies, procedures and legal provisions;
where the complaint has resulted in the policing body identifying measures necessary to improve its service, whether these measures are adequate and have been implemented;
whether the policing body’s response to the complaint is adequately reasoned; and
whether the policing body has communicated with the applicant in a reasonable manner.
 
Background
In 1993 the applicant reported to Strathclyde Police what he believed to be fraudulent accountancy practices by staff of his then employer. An investigation was conducted by Detective Sergeant A   [6]   and a report was sent to the Procurator Fiscal who determined that no criminal proceedings would be taken. The applicant has since repeated his allegation of fraud and made criminal allegations against police officers who investigated the matter. These allegations have been considered by the Procurator Fiscal and Area Procurator Fiscal on more than one occasion and no proceedings have been taken in relation to the alleged fraud or the actions of any police officer.
The applicant has taken legal action against Strathclyde Police in the pursuit of financial compensation for various perceived failings on its part. None of these proceedings has resulted in a finding in the applicant’s favour. As a result of the applicant’s continued attempts   [7]   to take legal action against Strathclyde Police the applicant was declared a “vexatious litigant” under the terms of the Vexatious Actions (Scotland) Act 1898.   [8]
The applicant has come into contact with the police in relation to other matters unrelated to his allegations about his previous employer. This relates to an alleged assault on the applicant, which he believes was not investigated by police, and allegations made against him by staff at a supermarket.
During the period 2001 to 2009 the applicant has written some 82 letters to Strathclyde Police in which he makes both criminal and non criminal complaints about the police.   [9]    The applicant has since continued to write to Strathclyde Police and various other public bodies  [10]   on a near weekly basis. His letters are often confusing and difficult to understand.     [11]
 
The Complaints
Based on the contents of the application form, the correspondence received from the applicant, and the information obtained from Strathclyde Police the Commissioner has identified the following complaints:
(1) that Strathclyde Police did not conduct an independent investigation into allegations of fraud;
(2) that an officer from another police force should have investigated criminal allegations made by the applicant against Strathclyde Police;
(3) that Strathclyde Police colluded with the applicant’s former employer by remaining silent regarding false public statements on the outcome of the police investigation;
(4) that police officers would not accept the applicant’s complaints;     [12]
(5) that police officers intimidated the applicant;    [13]
(6) that the applicant was asked to leave a police station;     [14]
(7) that police officers did not investigate an allegation of assault made by the applicant;     [15]
(8) that the applicant was falsely accused of putting staff at a supermarket in a state of fear and alarm;      [16]
(9) that police officers attended the applicant’s home unannounced;     [17]
(10) that Strathclyde Police documents contain defamatory statements about the applicant;
(11) that Strathclyde Police took ten months to respond to letters from the applicant; and
(12) that letters to the applicant from Strathclyde Police contained falsehoods.
 
The Commissioner’s Review
This section sets out the Commissioner’s views on the manner in which the complaints were dealt with by Strathclyde Police.
The Commissioner initially began reviewing complaints 1-10 under case reference PCCS/00448/08/PF-SP. Whilst these complaints were being reviewed the applicant submitted a further request that the Commissioner review the handling of complaints 11-12. These complaints have therefore been included in this complaint handling review under the reference PCCS/0119/10/PF-SP. PCCS/0119/10/PF-SP.
 
Complaint 1: Alleged failure to conduct an independent investigation
The applicant provided a statement on 6 November 2003 in which he stated:
[documents disclosed to the applicant from various organisations] indicate that Strathclyde Police had failed to carry out its obligation to make adequate independent enquiry into the complainant’s allegations of financial irregularities at [organisation] in 1993...”


 
 
Internal Handling
On 5 January 2004 Chief Superintendent B wrote to the applicant stating:
“I have consulted with the Area Procurator Fiscal at [location] and as a result of this I have appointed Detective Inspector [C], Strathclyde Police Fraud Squad, to undertake a full review of the circumstances and examine the new evidence you have in relation to this matter.”      [18]
On 7 March 2004 Detective Inspector C submitted a report regarding the applicant’s allegation to a principal procurator fiscal depute (Mr D). In this report Detective Inspector C noted
“A Strathclyde Police enquiry was undertaken in August 1993 by Detective Sergeant [A] … (now retired) under enquiry reference [number] (now destroyed). [The applicant] supplied full circumstances of the incident and photocopies of relevant documents showing the alleged falsifications of the cash processes. At the conclusion of [Detective Sergeant A’s] investigation, he submitted a subject report, outlining the full circumstances, to the Procurator Fiscal at [location] for his consideration. No action was taken and the enquiry was concluded in September 1994 under disposal file [reference] (now destroyed).”
On the direction of the Procurator Fiscal, Detective Inspector C obtained statements from Detective Sergeant A and Mr E (the Procurator Fiscal presented with the original police report in 1993). These statements were sent to Mr D.
On 23 July 2004 Detective Inspector C wrote to the applicant. He explained that he had carried out enquiries in relation to his allegation and that Mr D “will have the decision on whether to progress the enquiry to prosecution or whether not to undertake such a course of action.”
On 25 August 2004 Chief Superintendent B responded to this complaint stating:
“In your letter you raise the issue of an alleged failure of an officer of this Force to conduct an independent investigation into financial irregularities at [organisation] in 1993. You may recall that a Detective Officer was appointed to carry out enquiries into that allegation at that time and following the enquiry, matters were referred to the Procurator Fiscal … I understand that the matters were investigated and brought to a conclusion, I believe without need for a prosecution thereafter. Therefore, so far as the officer responsible for the investigation is concerned, I am content that he did carry out enquiries and submit a report to the Procurator Fiscal which was sufficient for their needs.  [19]   Furthermore you may wish to be aware that that officer no longer serves with this Force.”
On 3 February 2005 the Area Procurator Fiscal wrote to the applicant in relation to his criminal allegations, stating:
“…I am satisfied that the available evidence would not justify any criminal proceedings against any police officer. I should also advise you that I have reviewed the circumstances relating to your allegation of financial irregularity at [organisation] in 1993 and I am satisfied that the available evidence would not justify any criminal proceedings against any individual connected with that or any related organisation.”
Consideration
At the time the applicant made this complaint the police file relating to the applicant’s original fraud allegation had been destroyed in accordance with the Strathclyde Police‘s document retention policy. As such, any investigation into the independence of the investigating officers would have


 
 
been hampered by the destruction of the police file and the passage of time since the investigation took place. Accordingly, in the Commissioner’s view any enquiries conducted in relation to this complaint would not have been likely to yield reliable evidence.     [20]
In the Commissioner’s view Strathclyde Police’s review of the applicant’s criminal allegation represents a far more comprehensive and reliable response to this complaint than would have been achieved through a complaint investigation.   [21]    Having considered the report in relation to the allegations the Procurator Fiscal found no evidence to justify criminal proceedings.   [22]     In addition no evidence was uncovered during Strathclyde Police’s review that raises doubt over the findings of the police investigation carried out in 1993.  [23]   In these circumstances the Commissioner considers that this complaint was handled reasonably by Strathclyde Police.
The applicant wrote to Strathclyde Police on 17,19 and 20 February 2007 providing what he considered to be further evidence in support of his fraud allegation. On 28 February 2007 Chief Superintendent F wrote to Miss G at the Procurator Fiscal’s office enclosing this evidence. On 17 December 2007 the Area Procurator Fiscal wrote to Chief Superintendent F stating that “I do not consider the additional information to be ‘new’ … I do not consider that there is any further action to be taken by me at this stage”. On 18 January 2008 the applicant was informed of this decision in a letter from Chief Superintendent F.
In correspondence with the Commissioner’s office the applicant has complained that no investigation was carried out by Strathclyde Police in response to these letters. However, it is clear from the above exchange of correspondence that the Area Procurator Fiscal deemed that no enquiry was required.      [24]
 
Complaint 2: Another police force should have investigated the applicant’s allegations
On 13 August 2001 and 14 March 2002, the applicant made criminal allegations against police officers involved in the original police investigation of his allegations of fraud in 1993.
On 6 April 2002 the applicant wrote to the Chief Constable in the following terms:
“In a letter dated 19 March 2002 Detective Superintendent [H] responded to my letter to you dated 14 March 2002 by informing me that he had passed the papers I submitted to the Detective Chief Inspector, Fraud Squad, to appoint an officer to discuss any concerns I may still have. That decision was a major blunder. My allegations included that of corruption by Fraud Squad officers and should have been investigated by an independent senior police officer from another force.”
After considering the allegation the Area Procurator Fiscal wrote to Chief Superintendent B on 3 June 2002 stating:
“I do not consider that this complaint involves an allegation reasonably inferring the commission of a criminal offence by a police officer.”
Consideration
The applicant has suggested that another police force should have carried out the investigation into his criminal allegations against Strathclyde Police officers. The responsibility to make such a decision lies with the Area Procurator Fiscal, not the police. On this occasion the Area Procurator Fiscal determined that no enquiries were required into the applicant’s allegation. As such, the Commissioner does not consider that the applicant’s concern about this issue can properly be described as an expression of dissatisfaction about the police. Accordingly, in the Commissioner’s view this complaint was not one which Strathclyde Police was required to deal with.


 
In correspondence with the Commissioner’s office the applicant has raised the same complaint in relation to the content of his letters dated 17,19 and 20 February 2007. As noted above, these letters were considered by the Procurator Fiscal who did not consider the information contained in them to be “new”. The Commissioner considers that the explanation above is suitable to serve as an answer to this complaint.      [25]
 
Complaint 3: Newspaper reports
The applicant outlined this complaint in his written “statement of police complaint” which was given to Strathclyde Police on 6 November 2003. It reads:
“Strathclyde Police tacitly colluded with [organisations] by remaining silent when there was a duty to counter the false public statements issued on the outcome of Strathclyde Police’s investigation. In particular public statements in several newspapers … by [organisation] directors Mr [J] and Mr [K] relating to the financial irregularities were completely false and directly contradicted Strathclyde Police’s findings. The Crown Office confirmed in a letter to the complainant dated 1 December 1993, that statements attributed to Strathclyde Police and the Procurator Fiscal in press reports certainly did not come from them. However, Strathclyde Police did nothing to refute those false press reports referring to Strathclyde Police’s findings after its investigation into the complainant’s allegations of financial irregularities and took no action to follow up the further misconduct of those directors with appropriate actions.”
Consideration
Strathclyde Police did not respond to this issue. However, in the Commissioner’s view the applicant’s concerns did not amount to a complaint about the police in terms of the definition applicable at that time. The applicant appears to be alleging that officers within Strathclyde Police neglected their duty; however, in the Commissioner’s view, there is no general duty upon police officers to comment or act on the contents of newspaper reports. Accordingly, no further action is required of Strathclyde Police in relation to this issue.
 
Complaint 4: Police officers would not accept the applicant’s complaints     [26]
The applicant wrote to the Chief Constable on 3, 4 and 8 April 2002 providing details of three separate occasions when police officers allegedly refused to accept his complaints.
The applicant states that on 3 April 2002 he tried to hand deliver a letter to the Chief Constable but the person on duty (later identified as Constable L) refused to take the letter from him. The applicant also alleged that Constable L made a defamatory comment about him.
The applicant then appears to have visited Police Station 1 where he tried to make a complaint about Detective Sergeant M (complaint 5). The applicant alleges that a police officer (later identified as Constable N) refused to write down his complaint and also refused to take a written statement from him.
According to the applicant he then visited Police Station 2 to report an allegation of fraud against staff of his previous employer. He spoke to Sergeant P. The applicant subsequently called the police station for an update from Sergeant P who had recently finished duty. The applicant spoke to Sergeant Q who according to the applicant refused to spell his name or provide his identification number.
Internal Handling
On 2 May 2002 a statement was taken from the applicant in relation to his complaints. In his statement the applicant made various criminal allegations. Further statements were obtained from


 
Constables L and N and Sergeants P and Q. On 10 May 2002 Chief Inspector R submitted a report regarding these complaints to the Complaints and Discipline Branch. Chief Inspector R concluded that there was no evidence to support the applicant’s allegations.
Once the criminal allegations were considered by the Procurator Fiscal, Chief Superintendent B wrote to the applicant on 13 August 2002 addressing each of his complaints as follows:
In relation to the complaint against Constable L:
“You alleged that on 3 April 2002 at [Police Station 3] an officer was obstructive and adopted a poor attitude towards you. The officer concerned denies the allegation. It is his position that he received from you an envelope addressed to the Chief Constable and that he stamped a compliment slip as an acknowledgement of having taken delivery. It is his recollection that you had wished to lodge a complaint against police officers and that you wanted him to personally deal with the matter. He advised you that he would note details and pass them on to the relevant Department but he would not personally deal with the matter. It is the officer’s position that he assisted you the best he could but he recollects that you left the office clearly dissatisfied with his service ... It is a key aspect of policing in Strathclyde that members of the public are treated with courtesy and consideration at all times. If your view is that on this occasion the officer’s conduct fell short of this high ideal, that is a matter of regret for the Force.”
In relation to the complaint against Constable N:
“Later that afternoon I understand that you called at [Police Station 1] but you left the office shortly thereafter as the officer did not write down your complaints. It is, however, the officer’s position that he asked you to provide a verbal background to your complaints in order that he could understand the circumstances. He would thereafter make a written note of your allegations. It appears that you found his explanation unacceptable and after a short discussion you left the office. It is therefore a matter of considerable regret that you felt unable to provide the officer with sufficient detail to allow him to fully understand the situation. I am sorry if you feel that the service you received from this officer fell below the standard expected.”
In relation to the complaint against Sergeant Q:
“… you allege that on 4 April 2002 you telephoned [Police Station 2] where an officer failed to treat your complaint seriously and that he refused to provide identification. It is the position of the officer that he endeavoured to provide you with an explanation relating to your enquiry but you were unwilling to accept what he said. It was his understanding that another officer was already dealing with your complaints and that his involvement may simply duplicate what had already been done. That would have been wasteful and unnecessary. Due to the lateness - it was after 2300 hours - the officer formed the view that little could be done before morning. At that point the call was terminated. It is therefore unfortunate that you understood the officer to be disinterested. It was his intention to pass on your concerns to the officer that he knew was dealing with your complaint and certainly not to give the impression that he was not interested. There has clearly been a misunderstanding and it is disappointing that you felt that the officer concerned contributed to the confusion that has arisen.”
Consideration
The applicant has a differing account of events from each of the officers he alleges would not accept his complaints. As there is no independent evidence supporting the applicant’s version of events it is unsurprising that Strathclyde Police has been unable to substantiate the applicant’s complaint.


Based on the available evidence the Commissioner considers this complaint to have been dealt with in a reasonable manner. Accordingly no further action is required in this connection.
 
Complaint 5: Police officers allegedly intimidated the applicant      [27]
In his statement of 2 May 2002 the applicant provides details of a meeting he had with Detective Sergeants S and M on 3 April 2002. The applicant states:
“I was met by [Detective Sergeant M] in the front foyer. He was leading the way to the meeting. I was looking at the name plates on the doors. He said ‘what are you looking at?’ I said I was glancing at the names on the door. He told me it was sensitive information. It was said in a gruff manner and it caused me concern. He told me his name was [Detective Sergeant M] so I took his name for my files. I thought it was a ludicrous false allegation. He was treating me as a suspect. He is a big guy and he was looking right into my face. It was belligerent behaviour. We went into the meeting and [Detective Sergeant S] introduced himself. He asked me what proof I had of my accusation. He said we are not here to discuss European Law. I wanted to know exactly who I was dealing with and I asked them to specifically spell their names. [Detective Sergeant M] told me to go fish for it. I told him I wanted to know how to spell his name. He said I could spell it any way I liked. That was the end of the meeting. We went out a different way. I remember thinking if there was an alternative way why did they take me through a sensitive area. The third incident was the two of them followed me out the back door of the police station. I asked if this was normal practice. I felt threatened so I said to them ‘what are you doing?’ [Detective Sergeant S] said ‘you’re in a sensitive area’. My state of mind was these two are trying to intimidate me. I asked if they had recorded our meeting. They said no. [Detective Sergeant M] was smirking at me. I told him his smirk was unacceptable. I asked what his rank was. He told me he was [Detective Sergeant M]. I made it clear I was not happy being escorted. They followed me for 100 yards to my car and they looked at my registration number. I felt threatened. I felt anxious and didn’t sleep at home that night. I slept in my car that night.”
Internal Handling
Chief Inspector R obtained statements from the applicant and Detective Sergeants S and M. On 10 May 2002 Chief Inspector R submitted a report regarding these complaints to the Complaints and Discipline Branch. Chief Inspector R concluded that there was no evidence to support the applicant’s allegations.
On 13 August 2002 Chief Superintendent B responded to this complaint. In relation to the applicant’s concern about the way Detective Sergeant M spoke to him whilst walking to the meeting Chief Superintendent B states:
“… you will no doubt appreciate that the nature of Fraud Squad investigations is that the officers deal with sensitive and confidential material. The officer concerned formed the opinion that you had deliberately slowed your walking pace and that you were looking into each of the offices in the corridor. I understand from your own perspective that you were simply looking at nameplates on the door. However, the officer formed the view that by you actions you may have seen or inadvertently overheard confidential information and that he had asked you not to look in the offices for this reason alone.”


 
In relation to the applicant’s concerns about the actions of Detective Sergeants S and M when he left the police station Chief Superintendent B stated:
“Whist leaving the Fraud Squad Offices I understand that you had some concern at apparently being escorted from the building to your car which I believe was parked in the rear of the Police Office. Furthermore, you formed the belief that an officer had looked at your car registration number and the same officer had smirked at you. The evidence adduced by Chief Inspector [R] is that the officers escorted you to your car as it was parked in the secure area at the rear of the Police Office, an area not normally available to members of the public. While I appreciate your concern I would advise you that it is policy that members of the public are not permitted in these areas unless accompanied by a member of the Force. It is, however regrettable that you were initially permitted to enter that area unaccompanied and that is a matter which has now been addressed by senior management at that office. In respect of your car registration number, the officers have no recollection of deliberately looking at it. If they did so it was inadvertent. However, anecdotally, I can advise that it would be a normal feature of police observations and basic office security to take a mental note of such details. The office concerned may therefore have sub-consciously looked at your registration plate without any realisation that he was doing so, however, he denies that he smirked at you.”
Consideration
There is no independent evidence to support these complaints. The only evidence available are the accounts of events provided by Detective Sergeants S and M and the applicant’s competing account. Accordingly it is unsurprising that Strathclyde Police found the complaints to be unsubstantiated.
The Commissioner notes that no response has been provided to the complaint that Detective Sergeant M would not spell his name for the applicant. However, as there is no independent evidence in relation to this complaint it is impossible to substantiate. The Commissioner considers that by failing to issue a response to this complaint, Strathclyde Police did not deal with it in a reasonable manner. However, for the reason given the Commissioner does not consider there to be any value in recommending that Strathclyde Police now issue a response.
 
Complaint 6: Allegedly being asked to leave a police station       [28]
The applicant outlined this complaint in his written “statement of police complaint” which was given to police on 6 November 2003. According to the applicant he visited Police Station 4 on 24 December 2002. The applicant alleges that Inspector T would not record details of his complaint about the conduct of officers who attended at his home that evening (discussed under complaint 8). The applicant also states that Inspector T ordered him to get out of the police station or he would be arrested.
Internal Handling
Inspector U conducted an enquiry into the complaints and obtained statements from Inspector T and Force Support Officer V, who was on duty at the police station. Inspector U submitted a report to the Complaints and Discipline Branch on 5 January 2004. His report concluded that there was no evidence to support the allegation.
On 28 January 2004 Chief Superintendent B wrote to the applicant in response to this complaint. In relation to the issue of the non-recording of the applicant’s complaints the letter states:


 
“You alleged that within [Police Station 4] an officer refused to record your complaint against the police in relation to the behaviour of officers who had attended your home earlier that evening … Inspector [U] has established that the officer clearly recalls your visit to the police office. However, the officer’s recollection of the conversation is that you wished to complain about being defamed by these officers. The officer offered you advice relative to this event to the effect that this was a civil matter and that legal advice should be sought. It was the officer’s view that he had dealt with this matter appropriately prior to you leaving the police office. Of course, I recognise that there has clearly been a misunderstanding with regards to this matter. Therefore, if any action of the office has contributed to that misunderstanding, that is a matter of regret for which I apologise. Clearly, if you wished to make a complaint against the police then that should have been recorded. However, I am aware that you have intimated to Chief Inspector [W], Complaints and Discipline Branch that you no longer have a complaint to make with regard to the attendance of the officers at your home and therefore I respect your position in this matter.”
In relation to the applicant allegedly being threatened with arrest Chief Superintendent B states:
“…I have to advise you that the officer’s version of your conversation with him is that he displayed a firm and professional approach towards you while you were raising your voice in the presence of other members of the public within the police office and he had to warn you in that regard. I can, however, tell you that Inspector [U] was unable to establish any evidence to support your position in relation to this matter. I am therefore left with contradictory accounts of what was or was not said that evening.”
Consideration
In the Commissioner’s view the applicant’s complaint should have been recorded by Inspector T. Chief Superintendent B has addressed this issue in his response to the applicant and apologised for the oversight.
In relation to the applicant being threatened with arrest the Commissioner has little to add to Chief Superintendent B’s letter. There are two different accounts of the conversation between the applicant and Inspector T. With no other available evidence it is understandable that Chief Superintendent B has not been able to reach any firm conclusion. Based on the available evidence the Commissioner considers that the applicant has received a reasonable response to this complaint.
The Commissioner notes that after receiving Chief Superintendent B’s letter the applicant wrote to Strathclyde Police on 31 January 2004 asking if a CCTV recording of the incident was available. The applicant also disputed Inspector T’s view that other members of the public were in the police station and states the investigation into his complaint is incomplete unless the people alleged [by Sergeant T] to have been present are identified and interviewed. From the information available to the Commissioner it does not appear that Strathclyde Police responded to this letter.
However CCTV footage that may have existed would have since been erased in accordance with the Strathclyde Police document retention policy in operation at the time. In addition due to the passage of time since the incident the Commissioner considers that even if it had been possible to identify those members of the public in the police station any evidence provided by these individuals who have been of questionable value. The Commissioner is of the view that the applicant’s letter should have received a response. However, any response provided would not have altered the terms of Chief Superintendent B’s letter of 28 January 2004. As such the Commissioner considers this complaint to have been handled reasonably by Strathclyde Police.


 
Complaints 7 and 8: Assault not investigated/ false accusation of causing fear and alarm [29]
In his “statement of police complaint” of 6 November 2003 the applicant raises two complaints about the police regarding separate incidents.
The first took place on 1 December 2002 when the applicant attended Police Station 1 and made an allegation of assault against a member of staff at a hospital where he had been a patient. The crime report records that the member of staff and witnesses identified by the applicant were interviewed. According to the crime report, following these enquiries the applicant was informed that there was no evidence to prefer charges against any member of staff.
In his statement the applicant raises complaint 7 stating:
“I want it drawn to the attention of the officers who investigated my complaint of being assaulted within [hospital] where there are strict procedural requirements under Article 3, European Convention on Human Rights. The officers were quite pleasant but they said nothing was going to come of it and I told them that under European Human Rights Legislation that this was unacceptable. I have a complaint in that the officers did not conduct a full and proper enquiry in this matter. This is against the officers or officer who were responsible for the overall investigation.”
The second incident occurred on 24 December 2002 when Constables X and Y attended a supermarket in relation to an unrelated incident. Whilst at the supermarket the officers were allegedly asked for advice after a document was delivered to the store by the applicant. The document was apparently a writ suing individual members of staff for large sums of money. As a result Constables X and Y attended the applicant’s home address.
In the statement dated 6 November 2003 the describes complaint 8 as follows:
“I have made mention in my statement that two officers attended at my home address on Christmas Eve 2002, with regards to an incident involving [Supermarket] at [location] where by the male officer, who no doubt had been misinformed by [Supermarket], threatened to arrest me for putting [Supermarket] in a state of fear and alarm by issuing [Supermarket] with a writ that was not worth the paper it was written on and purported that it came from the Sheriff Court … In this instance my complaint is against [Supermarket] and not the police mainly because the police were no doubt acting on information supplied by [Supermarket]. The officers were young and should have checked the facts prior to coming to my house.”
However, the applicant then states:
“The officers from [Supermarket] and the officer who investigated my complaint of assault I would say I do not have any complaints. The officers from [Supermarket] were only doing their job, being given information by [Supermarket]. I want the matter of my assault fully investigated … Again I can confirm I have no complaints about the officers from the [Supermarket] incident or those involved in my assault enquiry personally. I want this investigated properly.”
Consideration
The Commissioner considers this aspect of the applicant’s statement to be confusing in that although he provides details of complaints 7 and 8, he then states that he has no complaints about the officers involved. Accordingly the Commissioner considers that the applicant has both made and withdrawn his complaints in his statement. As such there was no requirement upon Strathclyde Police to investigate these complaints.


Strathclyde Police did not deal with these as complaints about the police. Given the terms of the applicant’s statement the Commissioner considers its decision to do so to be reasonable.
 
Complaint 9: Police officers arrived at the applicant’s home unannounced     [30]
The applicant previously raised complaint 8 on 24 December 2002 shortly after the police officers attended his home. Inspector Z investigated the complaint and left a calling card at the applicant’s address on 22 January 2003 asking that he contact her. The same day the applicant wrote to Inspector Z of Strathclyde Police stating that he wanted to raise a formal complaint against her. The applicant listed two complaints:
“1. You arrived at my home unannounced despite the fact that you were aware of my complaint against two other police officers who did so on 24 December 2002 and threatened to arrest me.
2. When I pointed out to you that it is normal practice to write a letter if telephone contact fails you were reluctant to do so, asking if I wanted to continue with my complaint against the two officers, as if the continuance depended upon me acquiescing to your inept methods.”
Internal Handling
On 24 January 2003 Inspector Z submitted a brief report to Superintendent AA which summarised her efforts to investigate complaint 8. In her report Inspector Z stated that after failing to contact the applicant by telephone she attended his home address on 22 January 2003 and left a calling card. According to Inspector Z the applicant telephoned her later the same day and said that she had no right to come to his home unannounced.
On 4 February 2003 Superintendent BB wrote to the applicant in relation to his complaint, stating:
“Whilst you make it clear that you are dissatisfied by the methods which she chose to make contact with you, I would wish to reassure you that her approach was consistent with Force Procedures and that no stipulation is made that appointments should be made firstly by letter. Nonetheless it is clear that you wish to arrange an appointment in writing and your preference will be accommodated.”
Superintendent BB concluded his letter by asking the applicant to contact Chief Inspector R to arrange a meeting. On 5 March 2003 Superintendent BB wrote to the applicant stating that Chief Inspector R had not heard from him and invited him to contact him to arrange a meeting.
On 7 March 2003 the applicant wrote to Superintendent BB stating:
“Two days ago the Crown Office informed me that a criminal inquiry is in progress. You will be aware of my civil action. My preference is to let those processes deal with the substance of all my complaints.”
Consideration
In the Commissioner’s view Strathclyde Police has taken reasonable steps to meet with the applicant who has indicated his willingness to deal with his complaints through the civil court. In effect, the applicant withdrew from the complaint handling process. As such the Commissioner considers this complaint to have been handled reasonably by Strathclyde Police. Indeed, the Commissioner wishes to highlight the good practice shown by Strathclyde Police in its efforts to gather information in relation to this complaint.


 
For the reasons the Commissioner considers that this complaint was handled in a reasonable manner. Accordingly no further action is required in this connection.
 
Complaint 10: Documents contain defamatory statements
In December 2002 the applicant obtained Strathclyde Police’s reports related to complaints he had made about the police. The applicant has highlighted on these reports the information he feels is defamatory.
In his “statement of police complaint” of 6 November 2003 the applicant provides details of various documents disclosed to him. The applicant then states:
“The [organisation] and [organisation] acted in concert with [organisation], [organisation] and Strathclyde Police to harm the complainant by circulating defamatory statements about the complainant based on the falsehoods relating to the aforementioned financial irregularities, unfairly classifying the complainant as a persistent correspondent. Several of those defamatory statements were contained in documents disclosed to the complainant by [organisation] on 10 February 2003, including one relevant undated document, and by the Scottish Executive on 27 February 2003… ”
Consideration
The applicant clearly has concerns over statements allegedly made in various documents that have been disclosed to him. However, the applicant has either not provided an explanation why he feels these statements are defamatory or has not identified what statements he is referring to, other than stating when the relevant documents were apparently disclosed to him.
In the Commissioner’s view, Strathclyde Police can only be expected to respond to such matters substantively when it is given specific information as to which statements the applicant considers to be defamatory and why this is.
In correspondence with the Commissioner’s office the applicant has stated that he also wishes to complain about a false and derogatory comment contained in a letter dated 28 February 2007 that was disclosed to him by the Commissioner. The letter is from Chief Superintendent F to the Procurator Fiscal’s Office. The comment the applicant believes is derogatory is as follows:
[The applicant]…..arranged to deposit the evidence with us at [Police Station 5] on Monday 19 February 2006. He failed to keep this appointment.”
The applicant states that he “never failed to keep any appointment with Strathclyde Police.”
The Commissioner does not consider this statement to be derogatory and as such there is no need for Strathclyde Police to undertake any work in relation to this complaint.
The applicant has stated in correspondence with the Commissioner’s office that the above statement amounts to inaccurate personal information and therefore represents a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998. This is not a matter for the Commissioner to determine. Such concerns should be reported to the UK Information Commissioner.
 
Complaint 11: Time taken to respond to letters
The applicant states that he wrote to Strathclyde Police on 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 May 2009 presenting additional information in relation to his criminal allegations against staff of his former employer. On 3 March 2010 the applicant emailed Strathclyde Police stating:


“In May 2009 I sent several letters indicating that I had obtained new evidence in this case that I could make available to anyone who would review it. If any response has been sent I have not received it.”
In a letter dated 1 April 2010 the applicant complained that he had received no explanation or apology for the delay.
Internal handling
On 25 March 2009 Detective Inspector CC emailed the applicant stating that he had been unable to trace any correspondence from him dated May 2009. In his email Detective Inspector CC requested copies of the letters. The applicant then forwarded the letters to Strathclyde Police.
On 30 April 2010 Detective Chief Superintendent DD wrote to the applicant stating:
“Unfortunately, we are unable to provide any explanation as to why your letters dated May 2009 were not responded to between May 2009 and March 2010 since we have been unable to trace these as ever having been received by Strathclyde Police. However, if these letters were delivered to Strathclyde Police and we have not responded to them then I apologise for not meeting our normally high standards on this occasion.”
Consideration
In the Commissioner’s view, Strathclyde Police has adequately explained why the applicant’s letters received no response. The Commissioner notes that Detective Inspector CC contacted the applicant following receipt of his email dated 3 March 2010 and requested copies of his letters. There is no evidence to confirm that Strathclyde Police received the letters. However, in the event that they were received Detective Chief Superintendent DD has apologised for the delay in responding to them.
In these circumstances the Commissioner considers that this complaint was dealt with in a reasonable manner by Strathclyde Police. Accordingly no further action is required in this connection.
 
Complaint 12: Letters containing alleged falsehoods
Having read the applicant’s letters of May 2009 Inspector CC wrote to the applicant on 26 March 2010, stating:
“I have read the content of all the letters which you sent to me and write to advise that none of these contain any information not previously considered during the initial Police investigation in 1993 and the subsequent reviews undertaken by this office in 2004 and 2008. As indicated to you in September 2008 no further review of your complaints will be undertaken by this office.”
On 1 April 2010 the applicant wrote to the Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police complaining that Detective Inspector CC’s letter contained “verifiable falsehoods”. The applicant highlights the above passage of the letter and states:
[Detective Inspector CC’s] reference to details of any such report is not credible because those details cannot have been available to him or to anyone else since that report’s destruction.”
In his letter dated 1 April 2010 the applicant also refers to various “falsehoods” in a letter to him from Detective Chief Superintendent EE dated 17 September 2008. These apparent “falsehoods” relate to statements made by Detective Chief Superintendent EE to the effect that an independent


 

investigation into the applicant’s allegation of fraud was carried out and that a report was sent to the Procurator Fiscal.

Internal handling

On 30 April 2010 Detective Chief Superintendent DD wrote to the applicant stating:

“You are correct to state that the original police report from 1993 was destroyed by Strathclyde Police; this being in accordance with its retention policy. However, this fact did not preclude [Detective Inspector CC] from undertaking a full and thorough assessment of the information you provided in your letters dated 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 May 2009 and am I satisfied that he has given full and proper consideration to the latest information supplied by you.”

Consideration

The Commissioner considers that the applicant’s concerns about apparent “falsehoods” in Detective Inspector CC’s and Detective Chief Superintendent EE’s letters are effectively a reiteration of complaint 1. The Commissioner considers that the issue of whether Strathclyde Police carried out an independent investigation has been suitably addressed by this review.      [31]

 

Conclusions, Recommendations and Learning

The Commissioner considers with the exception of complaint 5 Strathclyde Police has handled the applicant’s complaints reasonably.  [32]  The applicant’s complaints are challenging to deal with due to the confusing nature of his letters, the period of time that has elapsed since the events subject to his complaints and the sheer number of letters and emails he has submitted. This makes the process of identifying the applicant’s complaints a difficult one.

The Commissioner is aware that during the course of his review the applicant has continued to write to Strathclyde Police regarding some of the above complaints. A substantial amount of resources has been expended by Strathclyde Police in dealing with the above complaints which in the vast majority of cases have been dealt with reasonably. Although complaint 5 is an exception to this, as noted above the Commissioner sees no value in recommending any further action in this connection. In the particular circumstances of this complaint, the Commissioner recommends that Strathclyde Police no longer considers or responds to any complaint made by the applicant which is directly related to those listed in this report. The Commissioner does not make this recommendation lightly, but for the reasons stated considers it necessary to do so.

John McNeill

Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland

Hamilton House

Caird Park Hamilton

ML3 0QA

 




[1]             This is not an accurate statement of my allegations.
 
I alleged that I had been instructed to overlook in my account reconciliation work the deliberate omission of a cash grant for £187,069 received from the European Regional Development Fund. I alleged that I was threatened with dismissal when I declined.
 
[2]             No they were not.     The allegations were investigated by Ms Mandy Dickson of Scottish Enterprise, not by the police at all.
 
[3]             I have a copy of that report.  It is plainly defective in several respects, not least by completely omitting my witness statements and documentary evidence provided to the police at the time.
 
For example, my email dated 17 August 1993 in which I had stated the following to my supervisors in Enterprise Ayrshire:
‘For the record, as I said to you both today, I am not comfortable with your instruction to exclude from Enterprise Ayrshire’s balance sheet funds received from the EC.’
‘Your comment that the management accounts do not matter so much, being produced only for internal use, seems to underplay the potentially serious consequences of circulating figures that are incorrect.’
‘I stated to you both that I know this aspect of Scottish Enterprise’s finances is under investigation by the National Audit Office therefore you must accept my concern as genuine.’
‘I have been advised that such omissions from management accounts are in breach of the Institute’s ethical guidelines.’  
 
[4]           You knew that I had actually asked the PCCS to review only two formal complaints that had been submitted to Strathclyde Police.
The PCCS wrote to me on 23 June 2010, almost two years after I had submitted my first application form, including the following statement in respect of the PCCS’s identification of ten heads of complaint:
‘I have (sic) an initial examination of the papers in your case and have identified what I believe to be your grounds of complaint.’
These grounds of complaint would of course have to have been identified in relation to the two complaints that I submitted for review.
As can very easily be verified I submitted only two application forms to the PCCS for review and these were in respect of only two complaints against Strathclyde Police. The following statement in your report is a blatant distortion of the truth:
‘In all, the applicant has asked the Commissioner to review 12 complaints.’
The first application form was submitted to the PCCS on 17 November 2008 and the second on 21 June 2010.
The exact texts of the sections in these forms containing details of the matters I submitted for review by the PCCS are replicated below:
 
17 November 2008
’WHY STRATHCLYDE POLICE DID NOT ASK  ANOTHER FORCE TO INVESTIGATE ALLEGED FAILURES, IN THE PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES.’
‘STRATHCLYDE POLICE’S STATEMENT THAT ALL THE EVIDENTIAL FACTORS I IDENTIFIED WERE KNOWN TO THE POLICE IN 1994’
 
21 June 2010   
‘A DELAY OF 10 MONTHS IN RESPONDING TO MY LETTERS’
‘FALSE STATEMENTS ABOUT THE 1993 INVESTIGATION’
‘FALSE STATEMENTS ABOUT THE 2004 INVESTIGATION’
‘FALSE STATEMENTS ABOUT THE 2008 INVESTIGATION’
 
These details related to only two specific complaints that I had submitted earlier to Strathclyde Police and in response to which I had received two corresponding letters from Strathclyde Police, one dated 19 September 2008 and one dated 11 June 2010.
 
  
    
[5]             There was no initial investigation by the policing body.
 
[6]             In fact Detective Sergeant William Watters carried out no investigation.
 
[7]             Actually there were only two actions against Strathclyde Police.
 
[8]             Strathclyde Police instigated this petition by writing to the Lord Advocate in July 2003 shortly after receiving substantial new evidence from me.
 
Clearly Strathclyde Police intended carrying out no review taking this new evidence into proper consideration.
 
The Legal Services Ombudsman concluded that I had grounds for a complaint to the Scottish Government about the Lord Advocate’s conduct in raising a vexatious actions petition against me while simultaneously supposedly carrying out a review which ran for years.
 
[9]             I have most certainly written nothing like 82 letters of complaint against Strathclyde Police. Have Strathclyde Police taken time to respond to 82 complaints from me? Absolutely not.
[10]             My communications with other public bodies are entirely irrelevant.
 
[11]            No they are not. And again my communications with other public bodies are entirely irrelevant.
 
[12]             I did not ask the PCCS to review this complaint.
 
[13]             I did not ask the PCCS to review this complaint.
 
[14]             I did not ask the PCCS to review this complaint.
 
[15]             I did not ask the PCCS to review this complaint.
 
[16]             I did not ask the PCCS to review this complaint.
 
[17]             I did not ask the PCCS to review this complaint.
 
 
[18]             But several years later I discovered that Strathclyde Police had instigated a vexatious actions petition by writing to the Lord Advocate in July 2003 shortly after receiving substantial new evidence from me.
 
Clearly by 2004 Strathclyde Police intended carrying out no proper review taking this new evidence into consideration.
 
The Legal Services Ombudsman concluded that I had grounds for a complaint to the Scottish Government about the Lord Advocate’s conduct in raising a vexatious actions petition against me while simultaneously supposedly carrying out a criminal review into the same allegations.
 
 
[19]             But the report was produced by Scottish Enterprise, not by the police, and it was plainly defective.
 
Clarifications obtained from the Procurator Fiscal in 2005 included an assertion that I was the only witness to the alleged financial irregularities in 1993.
Documentary evidence available to the police since 1993 contains references to Mr Gary Tracey, Ms Janie Maxwell, Mr Andrew Downie and Ms Alison Norton.
Since the Procurator Fiscal has maintained since 2005 that I was the only witness to the financial irregularities in 1993 the police appear not to have passed on this evidence to the Procurator Fiscal. Alternatively, employees in the COPFS acted improperly by concealing relevant evidence.
[20]             But a copy of the original report was available to the PCCS. 
 
Copies of that obviously rigged original report on the investigation had been provided by the police to solicitors Maclay, Murray and Spens and the Scottish Government and a copy had been obtained and provided to the PCCS by me.

The original police report that I obtained through Data Protection subject access disclosures completely excluded all evidence and witness statements that had been provided by me to the police at the time.

Instead of taking this very important information into consideration Professor McNeill just destroyed my credibility by publishing falsehoods about 82 letters of complaint.

A proper review of police conduct by a competent authority is long overdue.
 
[21]             So you accept that there was no police investigation into my complaint?
 
Why did you fail to record this as a complaint handling failure by the police?
 
[22]             Any decision by the Procurator fiscal has no relevance for your review which was meant to focus upon how the police handled my complaint.
 
[23]             But you said that the original report had been destroyed so how can you say with any validity that no evidence was uncovered during Strathclyde Police’s review that raises doubt over the findings of the police investigation carried out in 1993?
 
According to you the 1993 file was already destroyed.
 
[24]            Any decision by the Procurator fiscal has no relevance for your review which was meant to focus upon how the police handled this complaint.


[25]             Again, any decision by the Procurator fiscal has no relevance for your review which was meant to focus upon how the police handled this complaint.
 
[26]             I did not ask the PCCS to review this complaint.
 
[27]             I did not ask the PCCS to review this complaint.
 
[28]             I did not ask the PCCS to review this complaint.
 
[29]             I did not ask the PCCS to review these two complaints.
 
[30]             I did not ask the PCCS to review this complaint.
 
[31]             No.   You accepted above that there was no police investigation into this complaint.
 
Why did you fail to record this as a complaint handling failure by the police?
 
[32]             What about the complaint numbers one and twelve handling failures by the police identified in the notes above?