The number of people successfully lodging formal complaints against Scotland’s public services has increased, new figures have revealed.
According to a report which will be presented to MSPs tomorrow, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) upheld 251 more complaints in 2017/18 than the previous year.
It comes as a number of public sector bodies – including the NHS and local authorities – come under increasing financial pressure.
The Local Government and Communities Committee will hear evidence from the SPSO on the number of cases reported in recent years.
It states there were 4125 complaints made in 2017/18, of which 58.8 per cent were upheld (2425).
That compares to 4182 complaints the year before, of which 52 per cent were upheld (2175).
The Scottish Conservatives said the rise in successful grievances was an indication that public services were struggling to cope with demand, in the face of funding reductions from the SNP government.
Local government spokesman Alexander Stewart said this was more evidence that finance secretary Derek Mackay should offer a fair settlement to councils, allowing them more resources to reduce the trend in complaints in future years.
Members of the public can complain to the SPSO when they fail to resolve their issues directly with the organisation involved.
Scottish Conservative local government spokesman Alexander Stewart said:
“It’s extremely worrying to see an increase in successful complaints against our public services.
“It suggests bodies like local councils and health boards are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the demands placed on them.
“This is what happens when rising challenges like an ageing population are ignored by an SNP government, which over more than a decade has failed to plan adequately for the future.
“The nationalists’ workforce planning in health, social care and education has been a disaster, and for years now they have failed to provide local authorities with the adequate resources to confront all the difficulties they face.
“That’s why it’s imperative finance secretary Derek Mackay addresses the issues raised by councils in terms of funding, and gives them and our health boards a fighting chance of reducing these SPSO complaints in future.”
Notes to editors:
To see the evidence tabled by the SPSO visit:
The Scottish Conservatives have accused the Scottish Government of exposing Scottish Prison officers to unnecessary risk after it confirmed that body-worn cameras are not routinely provided to officers in Scottish prisons.
Currently, body worn cameras are provided to every prison officer across the rest of the United Kingdom.
The cameras are considered to be a ‘visible deterrent’ to disorder and violence against prison officers. They also provide evidence when required and support for prison officers in disputes.
Confirmation that the cameras were not routinely provided to officers or staff in Scottish prisons was provided to the Scottish Conservatives in a Scottish parliamentary written answer.
The Scottish Conservatives have accused the SNP government of failing to adequately protect Scottish prison staff.
Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary said:
“The SNP’s failure to provide body worn cameras for prison officers in Scotland when they are provided to all other officers in the rest of the United Kingdom, is deeply irresponsible.
“Our prison officers work in extremely risky environments, and are often called upon to resolve disputes, many of which can, and do, turn violent.
“The cameras are recognised to be a hindrance to that violence, and so, by their very nature, provide prison officers with extra protection.
“Scottish Prison officers should not be less safe than their counterparts elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
“The SNP must reconsider this approach and give Scottish prison officers the equipment they need to perform their jobs in safety.”
Notes to editors:
The written answer is as follows –
S5W-20571 Liam Kerr (North East Scotland) (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party): To ask the Scottish Government which prisons provide body-worn cameras for (a) officers and (b) staff.
Humza Yousaf: I have asked Colin McConnell, Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), to respond. His response is as follows: “Body worn cameras are not routinely provided for officers or staff at any Scottish prison.”
In October 2017 the Ministry of Justice confirmed it was investing £2m in 5,600 cameras, meaning every prison officer across England and Wales will have access to the devices.
This was confirmed by Rory Stewart, Prisons Minister, in October 2018:
“Alongside our work with the police and CPS to prosecute such offences, to protect our prison staff we have invested in 5,600 body-worn cameras and are rolling out rigid-bar handcuffs.”
Body worn cameras are also available in Northern Ireland. In January 2017, Justice Minister Claire Sugden said: “before the end of March, Body Worn Cameras will be available for deployment in all areas of the three prison establishments in Northern Ireland.”