Those of you who have followed the twists and turns of FAC activities over the past three years will know that on numerous occasions, FAC observers in courts have been subjected to harassment by police officers and court officials attempting to prevent them engaging in the perfectly legal activity of taking notes during trials involving the Offensive Behaviour Act. On each occasion we have had written confirmation that we are perfectly entitled to take notes and that we will not be interfered with again….until we are.
One of our representatives, having been invited to Glasgow Sheriff Court to discuss the most recent incident, was subjected to the most appalling behaviour by the officer in charge. Such was his outrageous conduct, her companion was forced to leave the room as she was unwilling to listen to the disrespect meted out to our intrepid FACer!
She duly complained to Police Scotland and in July (we’ve been a bit busy since then…) she received the outcome of her complaint (which numbered five in total). The outcomes were as follows:
Complaint 1: She was caused disturbance by the officer in relation to taking notes in court: UPHELD
Complaint 2: She was given conflicting information (aka told lies) by the officer and his line manager in relation to how the incident had come about: UPHELD
Complaint 3: The action complained of constituted a pattern of harassment given how often it had happened: NOT UPHELD because it was different officers and arose as a result of ‘an incorrect understanding of court procedures in respect of note taking’ by Police officers. So if you are subjected to the same behaviour by 100 different officers, just be clear it is not harassment because they are all different police officers!
Complaint 4: The senior officer was aggressive, rude and unprofessional: UPHELD His response was that she asked questions which were ‘confrontational and confident’. So there you have it, keep your questions to yourself or at least be timid when asking them! However, he has now been given ‘corrective advice’ so hopefully he now knows how to speak to citizens in an appropriate manner and has worked out that asking him questions is allowed.
Complaint 5: The officer refused to register/investigate her complaint: UPHELD He’s been given ‘corrective advice’ about this too so hopefully he now realises that when someone makes a complaint to the police, he has to register it even if a bit of it is about him and he doesn’t really want to.
All of this takes time but fair play to everyone who gives up their time to make sure that citizens should not be treated in this manner by police officers. We have had almost every complaint we have ever made upheld which, unless we are being treated differently to the rest of society, suggests there are police officers mistreating the public on a regular basis and getting away with it.