Complaint Handling Review

In this section you will find out how to ask for a review of how the policing body handled your complaint.

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What is a Complaint Handling Review

We can review how policing bodies, operating in Scotland, handle complaints made about them by members of the public.

If you feel you have been let down in the way your complaint was handled, you can ask us to carry out a review.

We call these Complaint Handling Reviews (CHRs). Our service is free, impartial and simple to use.

Please remember, we cannot reinvestigate the original complaint itself.

What you can expect from us

We can help to

  • Review how your complaint was handled by any of the policing bodies operating in Scotland.
  • Review the handling of complaints including the actions of police officers and civilian police staff, unless the alleged behaviour is of a criminal nature. These types of allegations are dealt with by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
  • We can help to identify learning opportunities for the police so that their standard of complaint handling can be improved in future.

We cannot help with

  • Complaints from individuals about the terms and conditions of their service with the police.
  • A criminal allegation about a police officer or civilian member of staff.
  • A complaint that has not previously been made to the police.
  • We cannot order the payment of compensation or other financial penalty.
  • We cannot recommend that an officer is subject to a conduct or disciplinary action.
  • We cannot reinvestigate the original complaint itself.
  • A complaint where you received a response from the police more than three months ago (unless there are exceptional circumstances which you can detail in your application).
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Start your Complaint Handling Review

Before you contact us, you should have:

  • Made a formal complaint with the policing body concerned
  • Received a Final Response letter from the police professional standards department within the last three months
Request a review

Why request a review?

Our aim is to increase public confidence in the police.

Our review may result in recommending the policing body:

  • Carry out further investigation and provide an additional response to you.
  • Make changes to its practices and procedures to prevent the same problem arising again.
  • Issue an apology to you.
  • Alternatively, our conclusions can also show that policing bodies are following complaint handling guidance correctly and are operating appropriately.

Our Statutory Guidance

We produce Statutory Guidance for policing bodies to follow, to make sure they deliver an effective and efficient complaint handling process.

We believe a good complaints handling process should:

  • Be simple and streamlined.
  • Be accessible and visible to all.
  • Deal with complaints as quickly, effectively and as close to the point of service delivery as possible.
  • Have due regard to the general equality duty.
  • Use learning to improve service delivery rather than attribute blame.

We also use the Statutory Guidance as part of our own Complaint Handling Review process. This helps to highlight where the policing body has followed the guidance or fallen short in their response.

It also encourages policing bodies to use the complaints process to raise standards, improve service delivery and increase public confidence.

Statutory Guidance

Common questions asked about our review process

If you would like us to review how the police handled your complaint, you should submit a completed application form within three months of the date on which the police contacted you with their final response to your complaint.

If you need help completing the form you could ask a family member or friend to help you.

You can also ask someone represent you during the review process, such as an advocate or solicitor. If you want someone to represent you, you need to submit a consent form with the final application. You will be guided to where you can download this form, once you start the application process.

You can also contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor who may be able to help you. We offer various contact details of support organisations that may also be able to offer you assistance.

Our aim is to assess and make a decision whether we can help with your request within five working days.

We will then contact the policing body and request the background papers.

Once they are received, we will make an assessment to determine to progress with your application. You will be notified of our decision in writing.

If we decide to progress your application, we will determine a final list of complaints to review - these are called heads of complaints. You will be asked to agree this list.

Once these steps are completed, we will progress with your review. From this point, we aim to complete the review and issue the final report to you within 90 working days.

Please do not include any personal information, for example information about a complaint or investigation you are involved in. If you would like to share any important information with us, please visit our Contact us page to find out how to get in touch.