Report of a Complaint Handling Review in relation to Grampian Police

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1 Case reference: PCCS/00408/11/PF GP / PCCS/00052/12 GP July 2012 Report of a Complaint Handling Review in relation to Grampian Police under section 35(1) of the Police Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 Summary and Key Findings The complaints dealt with in these reviews arise from alleged incidents which the applicant believes were not dealt with appropriately by the police. In respect of the first review (PCCS/00408/11/PF-GP) the Commissioner considered that all four complaints were dealt with in a reasonable manner. No recommendations were made. In respect of the second review (PCCS/00052/12/PF-GP) the Commissioner dealt with two complaints about the way in which a further complaint was dealt with. The Commissioner did not uphold either of these complaints. Again, no recommendations were made.

2 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 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 The applicant operates a shop in the Grampian Police area; her brother, Mr A, operates a signwriting business. In connection with his business Mr A provided Mr B with a sign for display outside his business premises. Following an incident on 3 November 2010, concerning an alleged outstanding debt in favour of Mr A, Mr B was charged with assaulting Mr A and was the subject of a report to the Procurator Fiscal. A number of the applicant s complaints about the police relate to issues arising from the relationship between Mr A and Mr B. The events which gave rise to the complaints are summarised briefly below. On 12 November 2010 the applicant reported to the police that she had received a threatening call from a male on her mobile telephone. The applicant recalled the caller saying something similar to if [Mr A] doesn t drop the charges against [Mr B] he s dead. The applicant called Grampian Police in this connection and later that day Constable C noted a statement from her. Constable C s initial enquiries indicated that no calls had been received by the applicant on the date on which Constable C believed the incident had occurred. The applicant believed that Constable C was suggesting that she had not been telling the truth and was upset by this. Constable C s further enquiries established that the applicant s telephone had been checked for the date on which Mr A had allegedly been assaulted rather than the date on which she claimed to have received the call. He thereafter arranged for further enquiry to be made in respect of the correct date. 1

3 On 26 April 2011 Constable C attended at the applicant s shop in the company of Constable D and advised her of the mistake in the original investigation and the further enquiry which had been arranged. The applicant later complained about Constable C. On 4 September 2011 the applicant and Mr A drove past Mr B s business premises and saw that the sign Mr A had supplied to him had been placed on the ground. The applicant saw that the sign was buckled and twisted and had words similar to, Yet more quality workmanship by [Mr A s company name] written across it. The applicant took photographs of the sign and, along with Mr A, attended at a police office where they spoke to Constables E and F. According to Constable F he explained that there was no evidence of a crime having been committed and that it was a civil matter. The applicant later complained about Constable F. According to the applicant she also reported a number of incidents to Grampian Police but no action was taken in respect of them. The incidents concerned Mr B and are detailed later in this report. On 6 August 2011 the applicant opened her shop and discovered that the premises had been entered overnight. She reported the matter to the police and Constables D and G attended at the applicant s shop. The officers concluded that no crime had been committed and that the matter was civil in nature. The applicant later complained about Constable D. In 2011 Mr H, an officer from an English police force (Police Force X), ordered goods from the applicant s shop via the internet. A dispute arose in relation to the order which resulted in civil proceedings. On the morning of 21 September 2011 the applicant telephoned Grampian Police on two occasions in a distressed state, reporting that Mr H was harassing her in relation to the transaction. At around 2 pm that day the applicant attended a police office where she reported the circumstances to Constable J. The applicant later complained about Constable J. Inspector L made enquiries into the applicant s complaints. On 24 February 2012, Superintendent N issued her with a response. The Complaints Based on the contents of the application form, the correspondence received from the applicant and the information obtained from Grampian Police, the Commissioner has identified the following complaints: (1) that police officers were not objective in dealing with the applicant s allegations as they were friendly with the person (Mr B) alleged to have harassed her; (2) that officers refused to note allegations about the person alleged to have harassed the applicant (Mr B); (3) that officers refused to deal with a break-in at the applicant s shop; and (4) that the police refused to investigate an allegation the applicant made about an officer from another police force (Mr H). The Commissioner s Review This section sets out the Commissioner s views on the manner in which the complaints were handled by Grampian Police. 2

4 Complaint 1: Lack of objectivity The applicant provided two examples in support of this complaint, the first of which related to Constable C s attendance at the applicant s shop on 26 April According to the applicant, Constable C told her that he had mistakenly given her contact details to Mr B. On being asked why he had done so, the applicant states that Constable C replied, well he s a friend of mine. The second example relates to the alleged actions of Constable F on 4 September As noted above, the applicant and Mr A had attended a police office with photographs of a sign which Mr A had supplied to Mr B and which had allegedly been damaged and defaced by him. The following passages are quoted from the applicant s statement of 9 December 2011: [Constable F] picked up the camera and said this would only be classed as hearsay as he was very good friends with [Mr B] and everything would be over [sic] he would help him. I asked for the camera back and he gave me it then he asked for it back and said I m going to charge you for taking photographs of [Mr B] even though it was only photographs of the sign. [Constable F] did not get the camera back and as we were getting nowhere we decided to leave. I went to the camera and saw that four or five photographs of the sign had been deleted; the only person that could have done this was the male officer I would like it looked in to why the police man is all for [Mr B] and he would not take a complaint against him. The applicant stated the following in her statement of 14 December 2011: I cannot name them but I am of the opinion that at least one officer, other than [Constable F], has claimed to be a friend of [Mr B], nor can I recall what or in what circumstances this was said by this third officer. Internal Handling Inspector L obtained statements from the applicant and Mr A and also obtained from the applicant a CCTV recording of Constable C s visit to her shop on 26 April Although Inspector L did not request operational statements from the officers involved he asked them to respond by to each of the complaints. In his response to the complaint Constable C summarised the enquiries he had made in respect of the alleged threatening telephone call made to the applicant (see above). Further enquiries had established that a call had been made to the applicant s telephone on the date in question but that it was of too short a duration to allow the origin to be traced. Constable C added that Mr B had been traced but denied any knowledge of the call. Constable C denied telling the applicant that he was friendly with Mr B and stated that he had only met him once or twice through enquiries. Inspector L also examined the CCTV recording of Constable C s visit to the applicant s shop on 26 April At no time during the recording is Constable C heard to say to the applicant that he had mistakenly given her details to Mr B, or that he was friendly with Mr B. The applicant s father, Mr M, who was present during Constable C s visit to the applicant s shop, also did not mention hearing Constable C saying he was friendly with Mr B. Mr A stated the following about the incident at the police office on 4 September 2011: a male came through who seemed to know [Mr B]. This officer viewed photographs on my digital camera of the sign and told me I could be prosecuted for taking them and when I got the camera back a couple of the images had been deleted but I didn t notice 3

5 until I got home. I did not challenge anyone regards this and don t think I told Inspector [K] about that bit but told him everything else I cannot say I overheard the male officer say he was friendly with [Mr B] and he d help him but did hear him say he knew [Mr B]. I spoke mainly with the female [Constable E] and [the applicant] with the male. Constable F stated that as he was passing through the office he overheard Mr A speaking to Constable E, who did not know the circumstances between Mr A and Mr B. Constable F stepped in to assist as he had had indirect dealings with both parties concerning different disputes. According to Constable F, Mr A then showed himself and Constable E photographs of the writing on the sign, which suggested poor workmanship on the part of Mr A. As the sign belonged to Mr B and was not threatening in any way, Constable F determined that it was a civil matter and that the police would not be dealing with it. Constable F denied saying that he was friends with Mr B or that he or Constable E had deleted any images from the camera. Constable E did not recall Constable F deleting photographs and stated that he had no reason to do so. According to Constable E, at no time in her presence did Constable F say that he was a friend of Mr B. Constable E added that it may have been possible that Constable F said he knew Mr B as the latter is well known to the police. In his report Inspector L referred to the previous investigation conducted by Inspector K in respect of the complaints made by Mr A. He remarked that it was unusual that Mr A had not mentioned the alleged deletion of the photographs by Constable F at that time. Inspector L concluded that the allegation was not supported by the available evidence. Superintendent N provided the following response: Consideration I note that Inspector [L] has been in contact with each of the officers whom you assert have admitted being friends of the individual you have named. I have to advise you that each has refuted having said this to you and significantly all deny being friends with the person you claim. I consider this allegation is unsubstantiated by available evidence. In the Commissioner s view, Grampian Police was correct to find this complaint unsubstantiated. The only evidence in support of the complaint is that provided by the applicant herself. The officers themselves deny telling the applicant that they were friends with Mr B. Mr A also did not hear Constable F saying he was friends with Mr B and the CCTV footage of Constable C s visit to the applicant s home does not support the applicant s account of what was said. The evidence indicates that the officers were aware of Mr B as a result of their police duties. Based on the content of the complaints file, there is no evidence that would lead the Commissioner to doubt the objectivity of the officers in relation to their handling of the applicant s allegations against Mr B. Superintendent N s response to the complaint was brief but the Commissioner considers it contained sufficient information to inform the applicant of the basis for the decision. For the reasons given, the Commissioner considers that this complaint was dealt with in a reasonable manner. 4

6 Complaint 2: Failure to deal with allegations The applicant claims that the police failed to deal with various allegations she made about Mr B. These can be summarised as follows: (1) Between 5 and 20 November 2010 Mr B had been in the lane at the rear of the applicant s home in a noisy car so that we would know that he was there. (2) At 10:45 pm on 21 November 2010 Mr B was sitting in his car at the rear of her house. When the applicant shone a torch from her house window Mr B drove off. The applicant recalled that Mr B was driving a black saloon car. The applicant could think of no reason why Mr B should have been there. (3) At 7.15 pm on 5 December 2011 the applicant saw Mr B along with the owner of another local business in a van in the lane near to the rear of her home. Again, the applicant could think of no reason why both individuals were there. Internal Handling Inspector L examined the records held by Grampian Police to establish the nature of the matters which had been reported by the applicant. He found that between 5 and 22 November 2010 Grampian Police received two calls from the applicant. The first of these concerned the alleged threatening telephone call referred to in complaint 1 above; the other was on 22 November 2010 when she reported that vehicles had been in the lane near to her home and were being driven slowly past on a daily basis between 10:30 pm and 1:30 am. The vehicles were described as a green pick-up vehicle (the applicant also provided the registration number) and a white sports saloon car. The incident log recorded that both vehicles had been seen at Mr B s business premises. According to Inspector L s report the incident log recorded that the applicant had been spoken to and that Constable C would be contacting Mr B about this incident and that concerning the alleged threatening telephone call. Inspector L also conducted a review of the applicant and her family s contact with Grampian Police between 2001 and 26 January Other than the incident reported on 22 November 2010, none of the matters the applicant described by the applicant in respect of the present complaint was recorded as having been reported to the police. Inspector L noted an allegation by the applicant that a vehicle owned by Mr B was not in a roadworthy condition and was not displaying a valid excise licence. Inspector L clarified with the applicant, however, that she had merely observed this and had not reported the matter to the police. Inspector L also clarified with the applicant an allegation she had made in an to her MSP dated 29 November 2011 in which she stated that Mr B was getting away with driving cars straight at ours. The applicant confirmed in her statement that Mr B had not actually driven his car at her and that this had happened to Mr A. Superintendent N provided the following response: I have to advise you that Inspector [L] has conducted a thorough review with regards to both you and your family s contact with Grampian Police over a considerable period, including examining our crime recording, call handling and command and control [incident recording] systems. I can see no evidence to support your position in this regard and am disappointed this is how you perceive your contact with us. I see in your statement you allege that between 5 and 21 November 2010, persons drove passed [sic] or sat outside your house on numerous occasions but having called the police, more than once, you are unaware of any police action or patrols in the vicinity. 5

7 Consideration Inspector [L] researched our records of contact with you and found that around these dates there are two calls, both from yourself. The first relates to the threatening phone call on 12 November 2010 and the second on 22 November 2010 reporting seeing a vehicle attending a nearby lane and passing your house slowly. The records show that you were spoken to, that no new allegations were made and Constable [C] was to speak with a named individual regarding both matters. As you were contacted at the time with regards to the passing vehicle and as the matter of the threatening telephone call was actively investigated by Constable [C] over a period of months, during which you acknowledge he updated you a number of times, I consider this allegation is unsubstantiated by available evidence. You state that a named individual is getting away with driving cars straight at us which seems to infer that this has happened on more than one occasion. However, when asked to detail these in your statement, you refer to one incident involving [Mr A], which he reported to the police. I assure you that this matter was recorded timeously and investigated fully. Whilst the outcome may not have been as you, or [Mr A], would have wished this is not due to lack of action by my officers. The available evidence gathered during the enquiry did not uncover actions that quantified a criminal act. I consider this facet of your complaint about the Police is unsubstantiated by available evidence. Inspector L s enquiries established that, with the exception of incident (1) above, there was no evidence that the allegations had been reported to Grampian Police. As noted above, Constable C dealt with incident (1) and it therefore cannot be said that Grampian Police failed in its duty in this connection. Likewise, the allegation that Mr B drove his car at Mr A was investigated. With regard to incident (2) in which the applicant alleged that Mr B was sitting in a black saloon car at the rear of her home on 21 November 2010, the applicant made no mention of this when she contacted the police on 22 November. Rather, she described a more general set of circumstances concerning two different vehicles. Based on the available information, the Commissioner does not consider there to be any evidence to support this complaint. In the Commissioner s view, Superintendent N also provided the applicant with sufficient information to inform her as to the basis of the decision in respect of the complaint. For the reasons given the Commissioner considers that this complaint was dealt with in a reasonable manner. Complaint 3: Failure to deal with break-in In an to her MSP dated 29 November 2011 the applicant alleged that she is abused by Grampian Police whenever she tries to complain. On being asked to clarify this comment the applicant explained in her statement that it related to an occasion (on 6 August 2011) when her shop had been ransacked by someone that apparently had a key, a Saturday morning, and the shelves were cleared and everything scattered on the floor. The applicant went on: [Constable D] said to me, if there s no forced entry, it s not worth using the blue paper to write anything on he did not note a statement and walked out of the shop. He was not actually abusive but he made me feel like dirt because of his attitude I later recall the police said the Landlord was [abroad] or something like that but his father was still in town. I believe they are surname [reference to Constable D s surname] too and don t know if this played any part in what happened. 6

8 Internal Handling In their responses to the complaint, Constables D and G were clear that there was no evidence of the applicant s shop having been ransacked, as alleged by the applicant. Furthermore, according to Constables D and G there was no evidence of any items having been stolen and only two items were reported by the applicant as having been moved: a soft toy which appeared to have fallen from a shelf onto the floor and a plank of wood which had been moved from one position to another. Constable D stated that the only other indication that someone had been in the shop was an internal door lying ajar, the applicant s position being that she closed this door before leaving the premises the previous day. Both officers formed the view that anyone who had entered the premises had done so with a key and had re-secured the premises on leaving. According to Constables D and G the applicant told them that the only other person in possession of a key was the landlord. The applicant also told them she had been experiencing problems with a leaking roof which she had reported to the landlord. In addition, she told the officers that the previous day she had received a notice to quit the premises within 30 days. According to the officers, having discussed the situation with the applicant and her father (who was also present) it had been agreed that the most likely explanation was that the landlord had entered the premises. Constables D and G were satisfied that no crime had been committed. Constables D and G advised Inspector L that they did not obtain a statement from the applicant as they believed it was a civil matter. Constable D also stated that he had contacted the landlord by telephone and that he had denied entering the shop, claiming this to be a fabrication by the applicant and her family in response to the eviction notice. Constable D did not pursue the matter further and left it to the applicant and her family to deal with through their solicitor. Inspector L asked Constable D the identity of the landlord; however, he advised that he had not made any notebook entry in relation to this and could not recall the details. Superintendent N provided the following response to the complaint: In their responses each officer has a different recollection of events to your own. They met you at the shop, saw no forced entry, no evidence of ransacking, indeed the Officers observe the shop appeared tidy and confirmed nothing was missing. I believe you confirmed the only person with a key was your Landlord with whom you were having problems due to a leaky roof. The officers position is they discussed matters with you and your father, and whilst it appeared someone had entered the shop, using a true key, there was no theft or damage and this person had left via the front door, locking it behind them. They further advise that in discussion, you explained you were in dispute with the Landlord over repairs and other matters which had resulted in the Landlord serving written notice, the day before, requiring you to vacate the shop. Constable [G] explained that on the balance of probability, no crime had been committed but you should contact your solicitor to discuss the civil matters. The officers claim you seemed content with this outcome and as such, neither officer noted any statement, it being unnecessary due to there having been no crime committed. Both officers claim to have acted in an entirely courteous and professional manner throughout. Clearly the officers were not abusive, they seem to have actioned the matter appropriately, as there was no crime and explained their reasoning for taking this view. I am sorry that you felt you were treated in any manner other than professionally and have made the officers aware of your view. However, I consider these allegations unsubstantiated by available evidence. 7

9 Consideration The recollections of the officers as to the condition of the applicant s property are difficult to reconcile with her own. The applicant s position is that her shelves had been cleared and that everything was scattered on the floor; the officers state that she told them a piece of wood had been moved and that a soft toy had fallen to the floor. As there is no support for the applicant s account, the Commissioner favours the officers position. The evidence also indicates that, if anyone entered the property at all, it was someone who held a key and that the only other person in possession of a key was the applicant s landlord. There is also evidence that the applicant was involved in a dispute with the landlord over repairs and that he had recently served the applicant with a notice to quit the premises. According to Constable D, the applicant later denied that he had entered the property, and said this had been fabricated by the applicant in response to the eviction notice. In the Commissioner s view, however, even with this denial the evidence still does not establish that a criminal offence had occurred. The applicant suggests in her statement that Constable D and the landlord may be related and that this might have played a part in what happened. This issue was not addressed in Superintendent N s response. A possible explanation for this is provided in a report prepared by Inspector L in which he states that when he asked the applicant about this issue (presumably during the provision of her statement), she stated that she was only joking or similar. In the Commissioner s view, there is no indication in the complaints file that the approach taken by the officers was based on anything other than the evidence. There is also nothing in the accounts given by the officers to suggest that Constable D and the landlord are related. Indeed, the basis for the applicant s comment is that they may share the same (very common) surname. Taking all these factors into account, the Commissioner does not consider it necessary to recommend that Grampian Police addresses this specific issue. For the reasons given, the Commissioner considers that this complaint was dealt with in a reasonable manner. Complaint 4: Refusal to deal with complaint about the police On the morning of 21 September 2011 the applicant reported to Grampian Police that an officer from Police Force X was harassing her in relation to a disputed business transaction. The applicant claimed to have been in contact with Police Force X but said that they would not assist her and that an Inspector there had been abusive to her before hanging up. The applicant attended a police office later that day. Her complaint about this incident is set out in her statement of 14 December 2011: Upon arrival [at the police office] it was busy in the reception area. The civilian lady was dealing with a few people for a car crash. I said I d an appointment and when a side door opened I saw the male officer in uniform standing there. Immediately upon seeing me this officer said there was no way in hell I was getting to make a complaint about another policeman and told me to get the hell out of the police station and never come back again I was very upset as a result. Internal Handling It was established that the male officer to whom the applicant spoken was Constable J. Inspector L obtained this officer s response to the complaint as well as accounts from Sergeant O, and a civilian member of staff, Ms P, who had been present when the applicant arrived at the police office. Ms P explained that the applicant had asked to speak to an officer and Ms P had arranged for Constable J to do so. Constable J explained that as it was busy in the police office the applicant 8

10 would need to be seen at a later time. According to Ms P, Constable J then spoke to the applicant and took her into her interview room to explain that, as they were busy, someone would call at her home or that she could call back later. Ms P stated that at no time did she hear Constable J make the comments alleged by the applicant. Constable J recalled that the applicant raised an issue about a police officer allegedly selling goods and demanding money, although he could not recall where the officer was based. According to Constable J, he told the applicant that as a police officer was possibly involved he would need a supervisor to speak to her, and that as none was available at the time he would have someone contact her later that afternoon. Constable J noticed that the applicant was upset and he asked her to come to an interview room so he could get some details to pass on to a supervisor. However, the applicant declined and went to leave. A short time later Constable J spoke to Sergeant O and told him that a female had left the office upset regarding a complaint about another officer. Constable J stated the following in respect of the complaint: If the female I spoke to on that day has said that she was told no complaint would be taken against another officer and then told to get the hell out of the station, then it was not me and if she is adamant it was me speaking with her then I can assure you I most certainly did not say anything of the sort. Sergeant O confirmed that he later met with the applicant to discuss her complaint but that at no time did she mention a complaint about any officer from Grampian Police. Inspector L considered that Constable J should be advised that it is not necessary for an individual to be seen by a supervisor in order to make a complaint about the police. Superintendent N provided the following response to the complaint: Consideration Constable [J] recalls your visit in relation to a police officer allegedly buying or selling goods and demanding money. He informed you they were currently busy and as a police officer was involved, a supervisor must speak with you but there was none available at that time although one would contact you later. Constable [J] later spoke with Sergeant [O] regarding your visit and I see Sergeant [O] visited you to discuss the matter later that day. Constable [J] refutes the allegation that he was uncivil to you in any way. Sergeant [O] later attended your home to ascertain contact details for [Police Force X] but recalls you refused these as you were dissatisfied with [Police Force X] s investigation of your complaint. This was an opportune moment for you to advise a supervisor of the alleged misconduct of Constable [J] during your earlier visit but Sergeant [O] advises that you did not raise any such concerns with him. As you stated, the staff at [named] police office were busy upon your attendance and I consider it reasonable for them to arrange for you to be seen later as your complaint related to non urgent matters. The fact that you did not take the opportunity to highlight the officer s conduct to Sergeant [O] at this time is difficult to understand as what is alleged falls below what any member of the public should expect. In the absence of any further confirmation of this allegation, I consider these allegations unsubstantiated by available evidence. There are essentially two elements to the applicant s complaint, firstly that Constable J was uncivil towards her when she advised that she wished to make a complaint about a police officer; and secondly, that Constable J effectively refused to deal with the complaint. In respect of the first element, Constable J denies that he made the alleged comments and Ms P is certain that she did not hear him doing so. The only evidence that the comments were made is 9

11 that given by the applicant. In light of this the Commissioner considers that Grampian Police reached a reasonable conclusion insofar as it found that this aspect of the complaint was unsubstantiated. The Commissioner also does not consider that the evidence supports the second aspect of the complaint, namely that Constable J effectively refused to deal with the complaint. As noted by Inspector L, Constable J was under the mistaken impression that a supervisor was required to deal with a complaint about the police. However, the Commissioner does not consider that it can be said that Constable J refused to deal with the complaint. Although he felt he could not deal with the matter personally, Constable J arranged with Sergeant O to obtain details of the complaint which he did. Like Superintendent N, the Commissioner finds it difficult to understand why the applicant did not raise with Sergeant O her apparent concerns about Constable J. In the Commissioner s view, it would have been helpful if the applicant had been informed that there had been nothing to prevent Constable J dealing with the complaint himself. Notwithstanding this, however, the Commissioner considers that Superintendent N s response was a reasonable one. Conclusions, Recommendations and Learning For the reasons given, the Commissioner considers that these complaints were dealt with in a reasonable manner. Accordingly no further action is required in this connection. 10

12 a Case reference PCCS/00052/12/PF- GP Background On 15 March 2012 the applicant sent an to Grampian Police stating that following receipt of a letter by her MSP from Chief Inspector Q dated 24 February 2012 she and her brother, Mr A, were being constantly followed by officers of Grampian Police. This was treated as a complaint about the police and a response was issued to the applicant by Mr R of Grampian Police on 26 April Prior to issuing the response, Mr R contacted the applicant on two occasions to obtain further details regarding her complaint. Specifically, Mr R asked the applicant why she believed she was being followed by the police, where and when the incidents had taken place and whether or not the officers were in uniform. On 10 April 2012 the applicant wrote to Mr R stating that although she would be taking her complaint further it would not be through Grampian Police as she had been advised to have no further dealings with them. Having received the applicant s response, Mr R telephoned the applicant s solicitor, Mr S. According to Mr R s record of the discussion, Mr S confirmed that he was representing the applicant in relation to a matter in England but that he was not acting on her behalf in respect of the present complaint. Mr S denied that he had advised the applicant not to have any further dealings with Grampian Police. Mr R provided the following response to the complaint: I am disappointed you have chosen not to co-operate with regards to this enquiry and as a consequence I have been forced to consider your complaint solely on the evidence available. As part of my enquiry I contacted [Mr S]. He confirmed he had not received instruction from you regarding this complaint, he was unaware of the complaint and was not qualified to represent you as the alleged incident had occurred in Scotland The covert surveillance of members of the public by Agencies including the Police is governed by The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act I have carried out checks and can confirm you and your brother have not been the subject of such surveillance. I have also made enquiry and established that you and your brother have not been intentionally followed or subjected to any other form of surveillance by officers from this force, as you suggest. The applicant subsequently applied to the Commissioner s office expressing dissatisfaction with the way in which her complaint had been handled. The Complaints Based on the information provided by the applicant, the Commissioner has identified the following complaints:. (1) that Grampian Police would not investigate the applicant s complaint; and (2) that an officer contacted people who were not involved in the applicant s complaint. 11

13 Complaint 1: Refusal to investigate In her application to the Commissioner s office, the applicant alleged simply that Grampian Police will not investigate our complaints. Consideration In the Commissioner s view, there is clearly no basis for this complaint. The applicant refused to engage with Grampian Police in respect of a legitimate request for further information and Mr R was therefore required to proceed without this. The enquiries forming the basis of Mr R s response are detailed clearly in the complaints file. Grampian Police investigated this complaint as thoroughly as it could given the absence of any further information from the applicant. In these circumstances, the Commissioner does not uphold this complaint. Complaint 2: Third party contact The applicant stated the following in her letter to the Commissioner s office of 7 May 2012: Mr [S] is not my solicitor and I find Grampian Police sending s to solicitors threatening me with arrest if they are giving me advice unacceptable. In her application form she stated simply that Grampian Police were contacting people who are not involved. Consideration Mr R was aware that Mr S acted for the applicant in connection with a separate matter and, in the Commissioner s view, it was understandable that he would wish to enquire with Mr S whether he also represented the applicant in respect of the complaint. This is particularly so given the applicant s comment that she had been advised not to have any further dealings with Grampian Police. In light of this, the Commissioner does not uphold this complaint. The applicant also alleges that Grampian Police sent s to solicitors threatening [her] with arrest if they are giving [her] advice. As far as the Commissioner is aware, this complaint has not been communicated to Grampian Police; suffice to say, however, that there is no support for it in any of the correspondence sent by Mr R to Mr S. 12

14 Conclusions, Recommendations and Learning For the reasons given, the Commissioner does not uphold either of these complaints. John McNeill Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland Hamilton House Caird Park Hamilton ML3 0QA 13

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