Police Scotland compensation payouts double to highest in six years

Payouts from Public Liability Claims alone have risen to £1.7m, more than triple the amount in the previous year.

Police Scotland compensation payouts double to highest amount in six years with £5.5m iStock

Police Scotland paid £5.5m in compensation payouts, the highest amount in six years and more than double on 2021.

Payouts from Public Liability Claims alone have risen to £1.7m, more than triple the amount paid out in the previous year.

The family of Lamara Bell who was left to die by the roadside on the M9 after police failed to respond to a callout are among those to receive compensation claims.

Another high profile claim was awarded to Rhona Malone, a former firearms police officer who was found by a tribunal to have been victimised by a ‘boys’ club’ in Edinburgh Firearms Unit was paid out nearly £1 million.  

The police complaints system, which has contributed to the large nature of payouts, was set up by the Scottish Government as part of its Police Scotland reforms.

The latest compensation figures were obtained through Freedom of Information request from the Scottish Conservatives.

Failings and challenges were highlighted in a report by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini.

The party say the police force has been “failed by a complaints system that was set up by the SNP Government”.

Scottish Conservative shadow minister for community safety Russell Findlay MSP, said: “The huge rise in police compensation payouts will come as a shock to the public.

“At a time when police budgets are under severe strain, the force simply cannot afford costly payouts due to large compensation claims.  

“Police Scotland have been failed by a complaints system that was set up by the SNP Government and was ripped to shreds by Dame Elish Angiolini in her lengthy report on the issue.  

“Changes are needed from within the police and they are making progress on that but the SNP need to start working to fix the broken system too.

“I have written to the Chief Constable so he can clarify public concerns about any impacts on the Police Scotland budget, as well as the wider work being done to reduce the need for such payments in the future.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It is for the SPA and Police Scotland to determine the level of compensation payments, and they have established procedures for the handling and investigation of any claims and complaints.

 “While the deployment of resources is a policing matter for the Chief Constable who is accountable to the Scottish Police Authority, the Scottish Government expects all public bodies to deal with compensation claims with careful regard to the public purse.

“The introduction of a Bill on Police Complaints and Misconduct Handling will provide greater transparency around the police complaints process, and further strengthen public confidence in policing.” 

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Our officers and staff work in challenging circumstances across the country to keep communities safe and improve the lives of the public.

“Compensation payments are dealt with on a case by case basis with a view to securing best value for the public purse.

“A significant proportion of the increase in compensation payments this year can be attributed to a few cases relating to incidents from previous years.”