In this section you can find out more about what we do in relation to both investigations and complaint handling reviews.  

What we do

We independently investigate incidents involving the police

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner can investigate:

  • Incidents involving the police, referred by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). These may include deaths in custody and allegations of criminality made about police officers.
  • Serious incidents involving the police, at the request of the Chief Constable or the Scottish Police Authority (SPA). Reasons for requests for investigations from the Chief Constable may include the serious injury of a person in police custody, the death or serious injury of a person following contact with the police or the use of firearms by police officers.
  • Allegations of misconduct by senior police officers of the rank of Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) and above, if requested by the SPA.
  • Relevant police matters which she considers would be in the public interest.

At the conclusion of an investigation, the Commissioner can recommend improvements to the way the police operate and deliver services to the public in Scotland.

We review the way the police handle complaints from the public

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) can review:

  • How the police in Scotland handle complaints made to them by the public.

Before the PIRC can consider your request for what we call a Complaint Handling Review (CHR), you must first submit your complaint to Police Scotland in order to give the police the opportunity to resolve it.

Once that process has been completed and the police have informed you of the outcome, if you are dissatisfied about the way your complaint has been handled you may apply to us for a CHR.

The PIRC must receive your application within three months of the date on which the police sent you their decision on the outcome of their complaint.

The PIRC cannot review a complaint of a criminal nature or any complaints made by individuals serving, or who formerly served, with the police about the terms and conditions of their service.

The CHR determines whether or not the complaint was handled to a reasonable standard by the police. The review may include examining whether the police undertook sufficient enquiries into the complaint or whether their findings are supported by available information.

At the conclusion of a CHR, the Commissioner can recommend improvements to the way the police handle complaints made by the public.

The PIRC also ensures that the SPA and Police Scotland's Chief Constable have a suitable system in place for handling complaints.