01 THE ROLE AND FUNCTIONS OF HMIC IN SCOTLAND
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary ( HMIC) was established in Scotland in 1858, and its first annual report published on 15 March 1859. Thus, for almost 150 years HMIC has been reporting on the state and efficiency of the Scottish police forces. While society has evolved considerably since the mid-19th century, this fundamental task remains as relevant as ever. This chapter reviews the statutory basis of HMIC's authority and considers its functions and responsibilities. It shows that the organisation continues to play a critical role in monitoring and assessing Scottish policing and in helping to improve its service to the public.
WHAT IS HMIC?
HMIC (or the Inspectorate) acts on behalf of the Crown by:
- Scrutinising Scottish policing.
- Reporting its findings to Scottish Ministers, Parliament and public.
- Providing professional advice on policing and police issues to Scottish Ministers.
Though we are often described as being independent, it is probably more accurate to say that we are neutral. The reasoning behind this is threefold: although not part of Scottish Government, HMIC is funded and directed by Ministers (primarily the Cabinet Secretary for Justice); though not part of the eight Scottish police forces or other police services, most of our staff are seconded from these organisations; and, while we have no statutory relationship with police authorities, other than a duty to inspect Best Value, we do submit copies of our reports to these authorities.
Our statutory function is outlined in the Police (Scotland) Act 1967, as amended, which states that, on the direction of Ministers, HMIC will visit and inquire into any matter concerning or relating to the operation of a police force or of police forces. Our subsequent reports have been instrumental in driving change, not just within individual forces or organisations themselves, but across the police service in Scotland.
Over the last decade, we have inspected the eight Scottish forces and four key support services (the Scottish Police College, the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency, the Scottish Criminal Record Office, and the Scottish Police Information Strategy) on a rolling, five-year programme. Our activities in 2006-2007 are considered in more depth in Chapter 2.
Our work is not, however, limited to force and organisational inspections. We also conduct what we call 'thematic' inspections on matters of significance to policing in Scotland. These have concentrated on single issues, functions or policing activities, examining how such matters are addressed across Scotland. The topics for thematic inspections have in the past been identified following consultation with the police service in Scotland, the Scottish Executive and other organisations such as the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland ( ACPOS). The inspections were then normally led by the Assistant Inspector of Constabulary, assisted by HM Lay Inspector, and, if appropriate, by other specialist advisers under the direction of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary.
In a recent and welcome development, we have become more involved in joint inspections. In the last year we worked alongside colleagues from HM Inspectorate of Education, the Inspectorate of Prosecution for Scotland and the Social Work Inspection Agency. We also participate with colleagues from England and Wales in the inspection of UK policing organisations, e.g. British Transport Police, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and the Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency.
Until 31 March 2007, we were also responsible for reviewing how forces handled (non-criminal) complaints about the police, when requested to do so by dissatisfied complainers. After that date this became the responsibility of the new, completely independent Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland ( PCCS). Further information about the Commissioner and his work can be found at: www.pcc-scotland.org
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary staff, June 2007
Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary ( HMCIC), Mr Paddy Tomkins, former Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police, leads a small team of seconded officers and permanent support staff. He is assisted in directing the operation and output of the Inspectorate by the Assistant Inspector of Constabulary, Mr Malcolm R Dickson, a serving police officer of deputy chief constable rank.
The management team is supported by five staff officers, one of chief superintendent rank and the other four of superintendent rank, all of whom are on secondment from UK police forces. Additional assistance in terms of research and administration is provided by a staff officer of chief inspector rank and three permanent support staff members employed by the Scottish Government.
In addition to the above, two officers have been seconded from HMIC to work with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education on a joint inspection of children's services.
Further information about our staff can be found at: www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Justice/Police/15403/2063
HER MAJESTY'S LAY INSPECTOR OF CONSTABULARY
Mr Peter Daniels OBEMA
Like HMCIC, Her Majesty's Lay Inspector of Constabulary is appointed by Royal Warrant. The Lay Inspector post is, as its title suggests, held by someone who does not have a police background and who brings other skills, knowledge and a lay perspective to the work of the Inspectorate. The post-holder of this part-time position is actively involved in inspections, focusing particularly on the areas of contact between the police and the public.
It is the Lay Inspector of Constabulary's responsibility to make sure that the views and concerns of the general public are represented in our work. Up until 31 March 2007 the Lay Inspector also had a specific role in examining complaints referred to us by dissatisfied complainers. Our current Lay Inspector, Mr Peter Daniels, has worked with us since September 2004. We have benefited greatly from the thorough understanding of local government and many other aspects of public service that he has brought to the role, as a result of his past experience and concurrent responsibilities.