Here you can find out more about what to do if you have a complaint about a policing body and more details about our role in reviewing complaints. 

How do I apply for a Complaint Handling Review?

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

What happens during the Complaint Handling Review (CHR) process?

If we decide to carry out a CHR, we will write to you asking you to confirm which of the complaints you made to the policing body that you would like us to review.

During the CHR, we will consider the facts of your case and review all the information provided by you and the policing body. We will consider whether the policing body carried out sufficient enquiries into your complaint, look at how it reached its conclusion, examine the evidence on which the conclusion was based and decide whether or not the complaint was dealt with to a reasonable standard.

We will keep you regularly updated on our progress during your review and will be in contact at least once every six weeks.  View our Standards of Service.

At the end of our review process, we will send you a copy of our report, which will outline:

  • The complaint(s) which was/ were reviewed
  • the background to your complaint(s)
  • how the policing body handled your complaint(s)
  • our consideration of how the policing body handled your complaint(s)
  • our conclusions and where appropriate, any recommendations to the police in connection with how they handled your complaint.

An Executive summary of Complaint Handling Review reports are often published on this website. View our published complaint handling reviews.

What sort of information should I include about my complaint on my application form?

In order for us to carry out a Complaint Handling Review, we need you to provide us with your original complaint and the reason(s) why you are unhappy with the final response from the policing body. Try to be as specific as possible.

We do not need you to explain the background to your complaint in your application.


Can anyone help me complete my Complaint Handling Review application form?

If you need help completing the form you could ask a family member or friend to help you. You can also contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau; or a solicitor who may be able to help you. Find contact details of support organisations that may also be able to offer you assistance.

Can I apply for a Complaint Handling Review anonymously?

No. We cannot review how your complaint was handled by a policing body without your personal details.  We need to have information about you and your complaint(s) as well as your authorisation to speak to the policing body concerned about your complaint(s). You should also be aware that we publish most of our Complaint Handling Review reports on our website. These reports are anonymised.

How will you review my complaint?

The PIRC will request the case papers relating to your complaint from the policing body involved. We examine the facts of the case and will consider whether or not the information available supports your complaint. We will also look at the policing body's response to you and consider whether this addresses your complaint. The PIRC will then form a view on whether the complaint was dealt with to a reasonable standard.

The outcome of your Complaint Handling Review will be explained in a report which will be sent to both you and the policing body. Any police officer or member of civilian staff involved in the complaint will be informed of the outcome of the PIRC review.

Will the Commissioner personally undertake my Complaint Handling Review (CHR)?

Probably not. The Commissioner is only personally involved in reviews that are considered to raise the most serious issues. For cases that are not considered to fall into this category, we operate a scheme of delegation whereby cases are delegated to senior staff.   

How long will it take to conduct a Complaint Handling Review (CHR)?

We aim to complete the review process as quickly as possible. However, as each case is different the time taken to review it will vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the complaint or the volume of information we receive from you and the policing body involved.

Will I be named in the review?

No. While we publish an Executive Summary of most of our Complaint Handling Review reports on our website, personal details such as names and addresses are anonymised.

Do you represent me?

No. The PIRC is impartial and independent. We do not represent you or any policing body. We review how complaints have been handled in an independent, open and fair manner.

Can you give me legal advice?

No. We are impartial and will not provide legal advice. If we cannot review your complaint then we will try to direct you to an organisation that may be able to help. If you would like to know more about seeking legal advice, you can contact the Scottish Legal Aid Board or the Law Society of Scotland.

Do I have to pay to apply for a Complaint Handling Review (CHR)?

No. Our service is free.

Can you ask a policing body to pay me compensation?

No. We cannot ask any policing body to award you compensation. Find out more about possible outcomes of your review.

What can I do if I'm unhappy with the outcome of the Complaint Handling Review?

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the Complaint Handling Review you can consult your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor about what further action you can take.