Proposed new laws to help strengthen public confidence in standards of police conduct in Scotland have been published.
The Scottish Government’s Police (Ethics, Conduct and Scrutiny) Bill has been introduced at parliament with the aim of ensuring allegations of misconduct are dealt with more transparently and effectively.
If passed by MSPs, the legislation would see the outcomes of misconduct hearings published online and will no longer allow police officers to resign to avoid disciplinary proceedings.
The Bill would also stop officers guilty of gross misconduct from being re-employed in policing by placing them on barred lists.
It comes after the outgoing chief constable, Sir Iain Livingston, admitted last month that Scotland’s police force is institutionally racist and sexist.
The proposed overhaul followed the consultation by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini’s independent review in 2020.
Cabinet secretary for justice and home affairs Angela Constance said that the Bill will help “strengthen public confidence” in the police force.
She said: “Scotland is well served by the exceptional dedication and commitment of Scotland’s police officers and the work they do every day to keep communities safe.
“However, if things go wrong, the police must be held to account and improvements made. The principle of policing by consent, so central to our justice system, is built on this accountability.
“It is also in the interests of both the public and of the policing family.
“This Bill, if passed, will help strengthen public confidence for example by ensuring officers can no longer resign to avoid being held to account for gross misconduct allegations against them.
“The vital safeguards set out in this legislation will enhance the professional service already delivered by officers, as they perform their privileged duties to keep us all safe.”
Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Jamie Greene MSP, said: “The SNP have dithered for far too long in bringing forward this bill, so the overdue publication at least represents a step in the right direction.
“Despite repeated calls from the Scottish Conservatives and victims, successive SNP justice secretaries have completely failed to fix the broken police complaints system that has occurred on their watch.
“Their failures to do so have let down the vast majority of good police officers and the wider public.
“The SNP’s progress on implementing the recommendations in the landmark Angiolini review has moved at a snail’s pace for over two years now, which simply isn’t good enough.
“As a result, officers have scandalously been allowed to retire or resign while they were still under investigation so it is welcome SNP ministers have committed to closing this loophole.
“The Scottish Conservatives will carefully scrutinise this bill at every turn to ensure that SNP ministers finally deliver a police complaints system that is fit for purpose.”