Complaint Handling Review process

Read more about who we can help and what to do next.

Understand the process

Complain to the police

If you are unhappy about the service you have received from a policing body, you must first contact them directly to make a formal complaint.

Receive a final response from the police

Once the policing body has considered your complaint, they will send you their response. This is called a Final Response letter.

If you are unhappy with how they dealt with your complaint, you can ask us to review how it was handled.

This should be within three months of the date recorded on your Final Response letter.

Remember, we cannot reinvestigate the original complaint itself.

Ask PIRC carry out a review

Use our handy checklist to see if you are ready to request a Complaint Handling Review. If we think we may be able to help you, we will ask you to complete an application form. 

Start the checklist

Next steps

Once the form is submitted, we will consider the facts of your case and review all the information provided by you and the policing body.

We will then decide whether or not the complaint was handled to a reasonable standard.

Where we think it is appropriate, we will make recommendations, and identify learning points for the police.

Our recommendations should be implemented by the policing body within two months of the date of our report.

How we can help

Our service is free, impartial and simple to use.

All cases are delegated to Review Officers and overseen by senior staff. Cases concerning the most serious matters are also considered directly by the Commissioner.

We can help:

  • The main person involved in making the original complaint
  • Any other person who may be affected by the alleged failing
  • Any person who may have witnessed the alleged failing
  • A person acting on behalf of any of the above
  1. Our aim is to assess and make a decision whether we can help with your request within five working days.
  2. We will then contact the policing body and request the background papers. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.

You, and any representative, can receive our updates through a personalised, online account, by email or by post. More information about these options is available during the application process.

If we cannot help you, where possible, we will provide you with contact details of the appropriate agency which may be able to address the matter.

We can carry out a CHR for a number of policing bodies operating in Scotland. Check our list to see if we can help.

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.