The Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament must decide what the priorities are after a review of the police complaints procedure, MSPs have been told.
Former lord advocate Dame Elish Angiolini has published a 490-page report on the findings of her review last month, making more than 80 recommendations.
Among the recommendations are increasing the powers of the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, as well as making it responsible to the Scottish Parliament rather than Scottish ministers.
Speaking at the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, the head of the review said it is now for the Scottish Government and parliamentarians to consider what the priorities should be when actioning the recommendations of the report.
She also said that, given the fact a pandemic is still ongoing, there may be government priorities other than bringing about changes based on her report.
“Some of this will cost money and we’re in the middle of an international pandemic so I’m realistic – the government, a parliament have priorities which at this point overtake what is here but nonetheless I do think they’re very significant … so that Scotland has a system that the community and police officers can rely on and is trusted,” she added.
Another of the recommendations is to place a legal duty on the Chief Constable and Scottish Police Authority to develop and publish a code of ethics that should be the “bread and butter” of policing in Scotland.
While such a code currently exists in Police Scotland, Dame Elish said: “Putting it into statute emphasises the importance of that, the importance of human rights.”
Dame Elish added that, throughout her review, she did not encounter anyone within Police Scotland who would be against the change.
In her report, she also praised the current code of ethics, which she said “sets very clear standards and expectations for all members of the service”.
She added: “It can’t just be worthy words, it’s got to be something which really permeates a whole service, something (officers) are aware of and that they subscribe to.”
Scotland is the only part of the UK where a code of ethics is not required under law and Dame Elish recommends legislation is introduced at Holyrood to rectify the situation, saying it would be a “very significant statement by the Scottish Parliament”.
After the publication of the report, the Scottish Tories’ justice spokesman Liam Kerr pushed the Scottish Government to put in place a “progress tracker” on its website for the 81 recommendations of the report.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said this is “not a bad idea at all”.
The tracker would list each recommendation and the actions that have been taken to implement it, along with the agency responsible for the changes.
When asked by the committee about the change, Dame Elish said: “It sounds like an excellent idea and I would very much support that.”