POLICE Scotland has been accused of an “alarming lack of transparency” over its use of gagging orders.

The force has failed as yet to make public detail on its use of non-disclosure agreements in cases of allegations of sex crimes or prejudice against officers, staff or members of the public.

Since 2019, Police Scotland has settled 1.7% of complaints against the force with NDAs – but it has not said whether these relate to instances of allegations of “sexual harassment, discrimination or victimisation”, despite pleas from MSPs.

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Audrey Nicoll, the convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has written to top cop Malcolm Graham, demanding more information on the number of cases and how many of those related to discrimination or harassment.

The force has previously denied using them to silence whistle-blowers and reiterated the statement to The National.

She also demanded Deputy Chief Constable Graham release a private report from Police Scotland on its use of NDAs.

In light of recent controversies within the Metropolitan Police which have shaken public confidence in law enforcement, the “lack of transparency” from the Scottish force has sparked calls for the justification for NDA use to be made public.

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Labour’s deputy spokesperson on community safety Katy Clark (pictured), said: “It's critical that justice must not only be done but also be seen to be done.

"Given the recent reports about police conduct south of the border and the Metropolitan police, in particular, it's disappointing to see an apparent lack of transparency over such serious issues being dealt with by Police Scotland.

"The Justice Secretary and the most senior figures in Police Scotland need to explain why the use of NDAs was justified.

"At the very least we need some reassurances about the reasons for this."

It comes after The National revealed last year Police Scotland had spent more than £220,000 in less than two years on NDAs.

Most involved payments made to serving police officers and their lawyers and all the NDAs issued in the period involved women.

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After a request by the Scottish Police Authority Legal Committee, Police Scotland allowed the committee to have sight of the private report. 

The agenda from a meeting on January 19 this year reads: "Following a previous request from members, PS provided a comprehensive report which addressed all previous concerns noted by members. Members were assured around Police Scotland’s use of NDA’s."

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "Compensation is dealt with on a case-by-case basis and with a view to securing best value for the public purse.

"Confidentiality agreements are recognised by the independent the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service ACAS and used by both claimants' and employers' solicitors to record the agreement reached between parties.

"In line with ACAS's guidance, we never use confidentiality agreements to prevent whistleblowing and they have been used in relatively few cases in recent years."