HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) is an independent scrutiny body, which has been in existence since the nineteenth century. Its role was reaffirmed by the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012, which gave HMICS wide ranging powers to look into the “state, effectiveness and efficiency” of both Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).
We also have a statutory duty to ensure that the Chief Constable and the SPA meet their obligations in terms of best value and continuous improvement. If necessary, we can be directed by Scottish Ministers to look into anything relating to the SPA or Police Scotland as they consider appropriate. We also have an established role in providing professional advice and guidance on policing in Scotland.
Our powers allow us to do anything we consider necessary or expedient for the purposes of, or in connection with, the carrying out of our functions. The SPA and the Chief Constable must provide us with such assistance and co-operation as we may require to carry out our functions and must comply with any reasonable request that we make. When we publish a report, the SPA and the Chief Constable must also consider what we have found and take such measures, if any, as they think fit. Where we make recommendations, we will follow them up and report publicly on progress.
We work with other inspectorates and agencies across the public sector to share specific expertise or jointly examine important areas where Police Scotland works in partnership and contribute to shared outcomes. We co-ordinate our activities to reduce the burden of inspection and avoid unnecessary duplication.
We aim to add value and strengthen public confidence in Scottish policing and will do this through independent scrutiny and objective evidence-led reporting about what we find. Where relevant, we will make recommendations to Police Scotland and the SPA that aim to improve policing. We will also identify good practice that can be rolled out across Scotland.
We can inspect other UK police services that operate in Scotland and are members of the National Preventive Mechanism, inspecting police custody centres to monitor the treatment and conditions for detainees.