A DRIVER who was followed for seven miles by an unmarked police car became so scared he dialled 999.
The man, who claimed to have had no idea he was being followed by police, said the car was driven aggressively and that he feared for his safety.
He pulled over only when the 999 operator told him the two men in the red vehicle were plain-clothes officers. The man made four complaints to Strathclyde Police about the incident.
They were investigated by Professor John McNeill, the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland, and he has now criticised the force for the way it handled three of the complaints as "poor".
Professor McNeill said: "This case serves as a timely reminder that poor complaint handling damages public confidence in the police.
"The unnamed man said that when he noticed the red car in his rearview mirror, it was "flashing its front headlights furiously."
The man's complaint continued: "This driving appeared very aggressive as the vehicle got quite close to my vehicle on a number of occasions, persistently flashing its lights.
"The car pulled in front of me and slowed. I was concerned by the vehicle's behaviour and started to dial 999 from my mobile."
When the car overtook the man on the motorway, he decided to leave at the next junction.
He said: "The car then turned sharply left across the chevron markings at the junction and stopped with hazard warnings illuminated on the off-ramp.
"By this point I was distressed and fearing for my own safety and called 999."
He insisted he stay connected to the operator until a marked police car arrived.
The officers – a Detective Constable and a Detective Sergeant – say they tried to stop the man as they considered him to have been driving dangerously.
The Commissioner's report on the incident, which happened on January 10, 2011, says that only uniformed officers can stop a car.
It goes on to recommend that Strathclyde Police apologises to the man for the pursuit in an unsuitable vehicle and for having been stopped when the officers lacked the power to do so.
Strathclyde's Deputy Chief Constable Campbell Corrigan said "The Commissioner's report makes some points about how we handled this particular complaint. We are examining these points and where appropriate we will ensure that they are acted upon.
"However, we cannot and will not accept that the officers acted illegally or without any legal basis. We believe this assertion to be wrong and we will be writing to the Commissioner to make this point clear.
"The officers did act outwith ACPO guidelines, but I would ask the public to stop for a moment and consider why they did so.
"They saw someone driving erratically on a busy road and they believed this represented a risk to other drivers."