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New police anti-corruption unit formed after raft of scandals

More than 100 allegations were raised against the Police Scotland unit over seven years.

Anti-corruption: Police Scotland form new unit to tackle issue (file pic).
Anti-corruption: Police Scotland form new unit to tackle issue (file pic). PA Wire

Police Scotland has created a new anti-corruption unit after the previous team was hit with a raft of allegations and scandals.

More than 100 allegations were raised against Police Scotland's counter-corruption unit, including a claim of officers attempting to pervert the course of justice, over the last seven years.

The head of the previous unit and former deputy chief constable Neil Richardson stepped down from his role in March this year after he was accused of misconduct by a detective over the row surrounding police spying on journalists.

Deputy chief constable Johnny Gwynne revealed on Thursday that the force's scandal-hit former Counter-Corruption Unit (CCU) will be renamed the Anti-Corruption Unit.

He said Police Scotland will "restructure and refocus" the unit's activity following a major review of its approach to tackling corruption.

It follows a report in June by HM Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) Derek Penman in which he made 39 recommendations for improvements after investigating the unit.

Counter-corruption officers have faced 25 complaints, totalling 108 separate allegations, in the last seven years, including criminal allegations.

Chief constable Phil Gormley revealed the scale of the complaints to Holyrood's justice committee last month, telling MSPs of allegations members of the squad had twice breached data protection laws, although no further action was taken.

The most recent complaint includes the allegation an officer attempted to pervert the course of justice, along with 11 further non-criminal allegations.

Mr Gormley told MSPs previous complaints have either resulted in no action being taken or officers being given "corrective advice".

'The unit will be known as the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) and will report directly to myself.'
Deputy chief constable Johnny Gwynne

Mr Gwynne said on Thursday that the "firm focus" of the new unit will be investigating and preventing "serious corruption particularly targeting those individuals or groups who seek to corrupt officers and staff".

In his letter to the justice committee last month, Mr Gormley said: "I would like to take this opportunity to inform the committee that a further complaint made by a member of Police Scotland about the counter corruption unit within the above time period has been identified.

"The complaint includes one criminal allegation of an attempt to pervert the course of justice and 11 non-criminal allegations. This is currently the subject of investigation."

The chief constable had been asked to detail criminal complaints made against members of the CCU carrying out their duties by Margaret Mitchell, convener of the justice committee.

In August, Police Scotland was ordered by a tribunal to pay out £10,000 in damages for "unlawful" spying.

The force was told to make the payment to one of its former officers after a tribunal ruled the force had acted unlawfully when it obtained communications data.

Mr Gwynne said on Thursday: "Following the review of our approach to counter corruption and acting on the recommendations from the HMICS assurance review, Police Scotland will restructure and refocus its activity in this area.

"The unit will be known as the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) and will report directly to myself. The firm focus of the unit will be on investigating and preventing serious corruption particularly targeting those individuals or groups who seek to corrupt officers and staff.

"The ACU will be led by a detective superintendent who will be supported by two detective chief inspectors."

He added: "The ACU will adhere to the same legal and investigatory standards as the rest of Police Scotland's capabilities.

"All necessary procedural checks and balances will be in place to provide confidence to the organisation and the public about what we do and how we do it.

"The public rightly expect the police to carry out their duties to the highest possible standards.

"Where allegations are received of serious criminality or corrupt practice, these will be fully and robustly investigated. The communities we serve would expect nothing else."

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