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Strathclyde Police Criticised for allowing its own officers to investigate allegations of violence

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Judges stated that Strathclyde Police force in Scotland was wrong to investigate its own officers over the allegations of violence against a detainee because the probe wasn't independent.

The detainee, Mr Ruddy, claims he was mistreated and assaulted in 2004 and originally brought a £10,000 civil case against the two bodies for the injuries he suffered.

Mr Ruddy believes that the case was not adequately investigated in the first place and as a result further action has been taken.

After the claims from Mr Ruddy had been acknowledged, Strathclyde police force informed the procurator fiscal who instructed the force to investigate the incident themselves.

Mr Ruddy’s lawyer states that the inspector who worked in the complaints and discipline branch was not actually independent of the force.

The court agreed that although no regulations hadn’t been breached the ECHR demanded an ‘’independent and effective investigation’.

The ruling said: “The Police (Conduct, Scotland) Regulations 1996 enabled investigation by an officer of a different force, but the regulations did not require it. It was thus accepted that it could not be said there was any breach of those domestic regulations. But that did not matter, because the whole contention for the pursuer was that the agencies of the state had failed in their obligation, under article 3 of the ECHR, to conduct an independent investigation.”

In 2005 a letter was received by Mr Ruddy’s lawyers stating there would be no criminal charges and that there had been ‘four non-criminal allegations’ about the incident including the use of ‘unnecessary force’

Mr Ruddy’s claims that he was repeatedly struck on the head and body by the officers after the police car he was in stopped in a lay by.

A medical report detailing Mr Ruddy’s injuries had been consistent with his own account of what had happened. However this was not mentioned in the letter that Mr Ruddy’s lawyers received.

The ruling said: “In our opinion counsel for the pursuer is therefore correct in saying that there is doubt as to the basis for the area procurator fiscal’s decision not to proceed.”

The judges directed the case be returned to the Sheriff court which will decide on the assault claims and whether Mr Ruddy is entitled to compensation.

Police Scotland said the issue of “independent investigations” would also be verified at the same court and it was watching with interest.

Before Police Scotland was formed, it was routine for the former eight forces in Scotland to investigate complaints against officers themselves. However under Police Scotland the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) now independently investigate the most serious complaints against officers.