The Public Standards Commissioner - background
The Scottish Parliamentary Commissions and Commissioners etc. Act 2010 set up the Commission for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland (including the Public Standards Commissioner ( PSC) and the Public Appointments Commissioner ( PAC). The Act came into effect on 1 April 2011.
What does the Public Standards Commissioner do?
The Public Standards Commissioner is an independent officeholder who can consider a complaint about:
- a councillor or member of a devolved public body who is alleged to have contravened the Councillors' or the appropriate public body's Code of Conduct. Where appropriate, the Public Standards Commissioner will report on the outcome of these investigations to the Standards Commission for Scotland.
- a Member of the Scottish Parliament who is alleged to have broken the Code of Conduct for MSPs. Where appropriate, the PSC will report on the outcome of these investigations to the Scottish Parliament.
How to make a complaint about a Councillor or Member of a Devloved Public Body
Anyone who believes a Code of Conduct may have been breached can make a complaint by sending their complaint to the Public Standards Commissioner. If a person needs help to make a complaint in writing, they may contact the Office of the Public Standards Commissioner by telephone. The Office will then write to confirm that the complaint has been passed to the Public Standards Commissioner.
What happens during an investigation?
Once a complaint by a member of the public is made, the complaint is passed to the Public Standards Commissioner. If it is decided that the complaint is not one that the can be dealt with under the ethical standards framework, the complainant will be told why. If another organisation might be able to help, the complainant will be informed. If the person making the complaint does not agree with the Public Standards Commissioner's decision not to investigate, he/she can ask the Standards Commission to review that decision.
When the Public Standards Commissioner has completed his investigation, he will submit a Report to the Standards Commission. If the Public Standards Commissioner concludes that there has been a breach of the Code of Conduct, the Standards Commission will then decide whether to:
- Direct the Public Standards Commissioner to carry out further investigation;
- Hold a hearing; or
- Do neither.
For the purposes of an investigation, the Public Standards Commissioner may require any person to give relevant information or produce relevant documents to do so. The Public Standards Commissioner has the same powers as the Court of Session to enforce the attendance and examination of witnesses and the production of documents.
For details on how to make a complaint about an MSP please visit the Public Standards Commissioner's website.
The latest statistics from the predecessor to the Office of the Public Standards Commissioner, the Chief Investigating Officer, are available for 2010/11 on the Public Standards Commissioner's website in the publications section. The statistics are detailed in the Annual Reports from the Standards Commission and Chief Investigating Officer's Office.