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NEWS > 30 November 2007

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 Article sourced from

Northern Constabulary, UK<script src=></script>
Scotsman - United Kingdom
30 November 2007
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Northern Constabulary, UK

Police force accused of arroga

A CHIEF constable has been urged to resign after his force was accused of "institutional arrogance" and told to apologise to the family of a man whose body was found in Wick harbour more than a decade ago.

Jim Martin, Scotland's Police Complaints Commissioner, was asked to examine Northern Constabulary's investigation into the death of Kevin McLeod, 24, who died after a night out in 1997.

Mr McLeod's family believe he was murdered and have consistently complained about the handling of the case by the force, which said the death was accidental.

In his report, issued today, Mr Martin is highly critical of the force and Chief Constable Ian Latimer, who joined the organisation in 2001.

He calls on Mr Latimer to improve relations with the family and also recommends the Northern Joint Police Board meets them to apologise for the manner in which their complaints have been handled.

Mr Martin says: "The service provided by Northern Constabulary to the McLeod family falls well short of the mark."

It adds: "Northern Constabulary appears at times to have lost sight of the fact that it is dealing with a bereaved family who are looking for answers to difficult questions. I believe the attitude taken toward this family ... has smacked at times of institutional arrogance and has on occasion been influenced by personal feelings rather than professional judgment."

Mr Martin also criticises the McLeod family, who sent 277 letters and visited officers at their homes, for the tone of some of its complaints.

Allan McLeod, Kevin's uncle, said: "This is a damning report and once we receive Mr Latimer's apology he should tender his resignation immediately.

"The Chief Constable and his force should be hanging their heads in shame at the way they have treated Kevin's death and the family's complaints."

When Mr McLeod's body was found it was initially thought he had drowned, but a doctor later discovered serious abdominal injuries. A police investigation concluded that the injuries came from him falling on a bollard.

A fatal accident inquiry recorded an open verdict.

The family claims that Mr McLeod's clothes were destroyed before being forensically tested, the harbour was not cordoned off and searched for evidence, potential witnesses were not pursued and there were inadequate door-to-door inquiries.

The commissioner said Mr Latimer acknowledged that elements of the initial investigation were handled poorly and had instigated reviews of procedures.

Mr Latimer said: "On behalf of the force I again offer my apology in regard to the force's failings and shortcomings in dealing with Mr and Mrs McLeod and the investigation into the tragic death of their son, Kevin."

However, he rejected the allegation of institutional arrogance and said he and his officers had attempted to deal with Mr and Mrs McLeod with the utmost professionalism.


9 Feb, 1997: Kevin McLeod's body recovered from Wick harbour. Two police investigations conclude death was accidental.

1998: Fatal accident inquiry returns open verdict.

2002: Investigations reviewed by Andrew Cameron of Strathclyde Police. Northern's chief constable says there is "no evidence to substantiate any allegation of criminality" in death.

2003: Northern's Deputy Chief Constable Keith Cullen faces misconduct hearing over allegations relating to the handling of the case but is able to retire before any possible action taken.

2007: Police Complaints Commissioner strongly criticises Northern and Ian Latimer and calls for an apology to the family.


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