Policies and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) set out the way Police Scotland intends its business should be carried out.
For Police Scotland, a Policy is a statement of strategic intent. It represents a concise and authoritative statement that sets out the Service’s approach to a particular issue or area of activity.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) combine guidance, information and instruction for our officers and staff, describing in practical terms the work or activity to be carried out to ensure a fair and consistent approach is taken. Whilst SOPs set out processes and procedures it is recognised that there will be circumstances requiring action on the part of officers or staff which may require them to exercise professional judgement or discretion. In such circumstances officers and staff are expected to act fairly and may be called upon to justify their actions.
In summary, SOPs outline ‘how we do’ a distinct area of business. This is different to policies that usually outline ‘what we aim to achieve’ or ‘what we intend to do’.
It should be noted that some SOPs contain exempt information, which should not be published. Where this occurs, the material will clearly show where information has been withheld and explain what exemption has been applied and why.
Typically, information may be withheld if its release could compromise the health and safety of staff, investigations and proceedings and law enforcement generally.
Policy and Standard Operating Procedures and their application may be subject to external examination and public and judicial scrutiny.