About us - FAQs

The role of the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) was introduced in 2013 when the single Police Service of Scotland was established.

We are independent of the police and deliver a free and impartial service.

Our aim is to secure public confidence in policing in Scotland.

About us - FAQs

The Police Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 as amended by The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 gives the Commissioner powers to conduct investigations where directed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) or when requested to do so by the Chief Constable or Scottish Police Authority (SPA).

In addition, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Investigations Procedure, Serious Incidents and Specified Weapons) Regulations 2013 provide additional powers to deal with referrals by the Chief Constable or SPA.

The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2013 extended PIRC’s remit to investigate a constable/member/officer/official with:

  • British Transport Police and the British Transport Police Authority.
  • The Civil Nuclear Constabulary and the Civil Nuclear Police Authority.
  • The Ministry of Defence Police.
  • The National Crime Agency.
  • HM Revenue and Customs.
  • A general customs official and any other person exercising general customs functions under the authority of the Secretary of State or the Director of Border Revenue.
  • An immigration officer and an official of the Secretary of State exercising functions relating to asylum and immigration.

The Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2007 allows PIRC to review the handling of complaints by the above policing bodies.

The Commissioner is also provided with powers in The Police Service of Scotland (Senior Officers) Conduct Regulations 2013 which allow for members of the Commissioner's staff to investigate in the conduct of senior officers of the rank of Assistant Chief Constable and above.

PIRC has no punitive powers. However, we do report our findings back to the policing body with any relevant recommendations to implement.

We notify the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service when any evidence of criminality is found.


Where appropriate, some of our Investigation reports will provide feedback and highlight any opportunities for organisational learning that we identify during the investigation.

This could include improving or reviewing police standard operating procedures or policies.

Many of our reports are confidential and we are unable to comment or publish them.

Complaint Handling Reviews

If, during a Complaint Handling Review, we identify failings, shortcomings or deficiencies in the way the policing body has handled your complaint, we may issue a recommendation.

A recommendation may ask the policing body to carry out further enquiries into your complaint, provide you with a more detailed response or even re-assess the available evidence based on the findings of our report.

In some cases, we may issue a reconsideration direction. This means that we have concluded that your complaint must be looked at again in full.

In all cases, we look for learning opportunities for the police so that their standard of complaint handling can be improved in the future.

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.