Police watchdogs need an extra £1m

Police Investigations & Review Commissioner for Scotland, Kate Frame
Police Investigations & Review Commissioner for Scotland, Kate Frame

A police watchdog is demanding more cash from ministers after seeing its workload rocket.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) has seen its caseload jump by a third in the last year and is dealing with nearly twice as many probes than when it was established in 2013.

PIRC, led by commissioner Kate Frame,independently investigate incidents involving the police and is at the centre of a number of controversies engulfing Scotland’s national force, from the M9 crash to the bullying allegations facing current chief constable Phil Gormley.

The public body saw its workload increase even further last week with the launch of an investigation into allegations of criminality which resulted in the suspension of assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins and three other officers.

PIRC was handed £455,000 extra cash last year and it is expected a similar sum will need to be found in this month’s Scottish budget.

It is understood the Gormley and Higgins investigations are likely to run well into 2018.

A spokesman for the PIRC said: “Inevitably, the rise in investigations has substantially increased the demands on our resources.

“The Commissioner has continued to keep the Scottish Government informed of this and is again in consultation with the government to seek an increase in funding.”

Since the PIRC was established in April 2013 the number of investigations referred by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has almost doubled from 17 in 2013/14 to 32 in 2016/17.

The PIRC is carrying out 27 investigations, of which 17 have been referred by the COPFS.

In a statement to MSPs last week, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “We are considering the existing resources available to the PIRC.”