IT is understood senior officers have been told the controversial Counter Corruption Unit will be disbanded amid mounting concern about heavy-handed tactics and over-the-top inquiries.
Clyde Gateway in Dalmarnock, Glasgow.
POLICE Scotland’s controversial internal affairs unit will be shut down after the Holyrood election because of the Sunday Mail spy scandal.
It is understood senior officers have been told the controversial Counter Corruption Unit will be disbanded amid mounting concern about heavy-handed tactics and over-the-top inquiries.
New chief constable Phil Gormley is expected to hand much of the unit’s
role and responsibility for probing allegations of wrongdoing by officers to independent investigators.
The move is expected to be announced publicly shortly after the Scottish Parliament election in May.
The CCU has been mired in controversy since watchdogs accused them of “recklessly” launching an unauthorised hunt for our sources after we revealed a forgotten suspect in the Emma Caldwell murder inquiry.
They targeted two serving officers and two former officers but were later found to have obtained phone, and possibly email, data without a judge’s authority.
Emma Caldwell Coverage
Deputy chief constable Neil Richardson, who was responsible for the unit, last week announced he will be leaving the force.
He has been accused by a detective of making up evidence to a Holyrood committee investigating breaches of new regulations designed to make it harder for police to spy on journalists.
Today, we can reveal the unit face other serious questions about their inquiries, including claims they routinely treated possibly minor infractions like major crimes.
One six-year investigation involved constables Andrew Reid and Amanda Daly, who were cleared of breaking the law after legal proceedings estimated to have cost the force £500,000.
Daly breaks her silence today to tell how the stress of the inquiry caused her to lose a baby. She said: “All I ever wanted to do was serve in the police. But these officers took everything from me. They ruined my life.”
The Scottish Police Authority asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland to investigate the CCU after it was revealed officers had breached guidelines demanding a judge’s approval before they take action to discover journalists’ sources.
The CCU’s targets have lodged criminal complaints after it emerged senior officers were warned the operation would breach the rules but pressed on anyway.
HMICS investigator Stephen Whitelock is leading the inquiry despite being in joint charge of Strathclyde CID between 2005 and 2008, which covered the Emma Caldwell murder inquiry. His report is due to be completed soon.
According to well-placed sources, the CCU’s duties will be handed to the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner.
Labour’s justice spokesman Graham Pearson said: “This unit was set up to tackle major corruption in the police.
Emma Caldwell Coverage
“By carrying out long investigations into officers accused of minor data protection breaches, it has created an impression of injustice among rank and file officers which has caused problems with morale.
“Phil Gormley is clearly setting his soldiers in the right order. I carried out a review of policing in Scotland in November and recommended exactly this move. ”
Since taking over in January, Gormley has been taking soundings from politicians, lawyers and officers. He regarded the problems with the unit – created in 2013 by former chief Stephen House – as one of his major priorities.
Last year, it emerged that more than 50 officers are being investigated by the CCU for data protection breaches. One lawyer said: “This unit was created to expose serious wrongdoing among officers. When was the last time we had an example of that?
“Gormley has clearly decided to drain the swamp and he should be applauded for it.”
Solicitor Aamer Anwar, who represents more than 15 officers investigated by the unit, said: “I have dealt with police officers who are law-abiding and passionate about their jobs.
“Following their experiences with the CCU, they have felt physically and mentally abused and treated worse than serious criminals.
“When complaints are made against the CCU, they investigate themselves and matters are spun out for years. Yet when officers falsely accused are acquitted at court, the torture doesn’t stop as misconduct investigations then drag on sometimes for up to three years.”
Amanda Daly was the police corruption whistleblower
In April last year, the Sunday Mail revealed the existence of a forgotten suspect in the 2005 murder of Emma Caldwell.
In an attempt to find any serving officers helping our reporters, the CCU broke rules demanding a judge’s approval five times while targeting four individuals.
The row escalated when Detective Inspector Davie Moran, one of the officers targeted, accused deputy chief Richardson of misrepresenting him and misleading Holyrood’s Justice Committee.
The committee chairwoman Christine Grahame said yesterday: “There have been many questions about the conduct of the CCU which have yet to be fully addressed or answered.
“I am pleased that there is change afoot and I believe the new chief constable Phil Gormley did hint at this move in his evidence when he came before us.”
Last night, Police Scotland said: “There is no imminent closure of this unit.”