External force to examine 'unprofessional' police conduct

Osprey House in Paisley Image copyright Google
Image caption The Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency was based at Osprey House in Paisley

Police Scotland have requested that another force examine "unprofessional" conduct within the former Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said he would ask the external force to peer review an internal Police Scotland investigation which has taken place.

The development was revealed in papers going before Wednesday's Scottish Police Authority board.

The misconduct relates to issues raised in a civil claim by a former officer.

A judge agreed that the officer, referred to as Mrs K, had not been fairly treated by the force after raising concerns that a colleague had compromised covert operations.

Suspended from role

Mrs K had been a detective sergeant working in the special operations unit (SOU) at the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA).

The agency no longer exists as it was incorporated into Police Scotland, which replaced the old eight-force model in April 2013.

The officer told the Court of Session in Edinburgh she was left "extremely concerned" after uncovering evidence which suggested that covert operations and individuals involved in them may be compromised.

An internal investigation was launched and, as part of it, Mrs K was questioned by detectives.

Image caption The case was heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh

During a further meeting with more senior officers, she was told she was being suspended from her role as an undercover operative.

She said she could not understand why this was happening as she was the innocent party.

Mrs K brought the court action because she was left feeling as if she had done wrong and maintained that she was a whistleblower.

A 59-page judgement issued in January said further procedures may be required to assess the compensation Mrs K was due.

Review instructed

In a paper published on the SPA website, Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said the "assertions... regarding unprofessional practice" made during the court case had generated "legitimate interest" into what had gone on at the SCDEA.

He instructed Police Scotland's Anti-Corruption Unit to review the chronology, previous investigations and actions. This review is now complete.

Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Mr Livingstone has requested a review by an external force

Mr Livingstone added: "It is clear that the events which took place... were wholly unsatisfactory and unprofessional.

"While I am entirely satisfied that the review [by Police Scotland's Anti-Corruption Unit] was a thorough, robust and appropriate response, I recognise the legitimate interest that exists about what took place in 2011, and the importance of public confidence in the vital area of covert policing.

"To that end, I have requested that an external force, which has significant knowledge and experience in the area of covert policing, carry out a peer review to provide independent assurance."

He added that the purpose of the "independent peer review" was to make sure that all lines of investigation had been pursued.

"On completion and receipt of the peer review, I will determine what steps, if any, are required to ensure the integrity of the Police Scotland response and provide further public reassurance over this episode", he added.

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