Complaints about PIRC

We are committed to providing high quality customer service. We value complaints and use information from them to help us improve our services. If something goes wrong, or you are dissatisfied with our services, please tell us.

Image to represent good and bad customer service

What is a complaint?

We regard a complaint as you telling us:

  • You are unhappy about how we have acted or not acted.
  • You are unhappy about the standard of service which was provided by us or on our behalf
  • Anyone can make a complaint to us.
  • We can also take complaints from a friend, relative, or an advocate, if you have given them your consent to complain for you. 

What can I complain about?

You can complain about things like:

  • Our standard of service.
  • Dissatisfaction with our policy.
  • Treatment by, or attitude of, a member of staff.
  • Our failure to follow the proper admin procedure.

What can't I complain about?

  • Disagreement with the conclusions and findings of a Complaint Handling Review report.
  • Requests for compensation.
  • Issues that are in court or have already been heard by a court or tribunal.
  • Disagreement with a decision where a statutory right of appeal exists.
  • A routine first-time request for a service, where for example we may have refused to review a complaint concerning the police because the matter had never been taken through the police complaints handling procedure in the first instance.
  • An attempt to reopen a previously concluded complaint or to have a complaint reconsidered where we have already given our final decision.

More information

Your complaint may also involve more than one service or be about someone working on our behalf.

If your complaint about a member of staff requires to be investigated, that person will be consulted about the incident and asked for their views but they will not be involved in looking into the complaint.

The Accountable Officer or the Director of Operations will be responsible for handling any complaints about the Commissioner, including whether it should be referred to an external agency.

However, there are some things we can’t deal with through our complaints handling procedure.

If other procedures or rights of appeal can help you resolve your concerns, we will give information and advice to help you. 

How long do I have to make a complaint?

Normally, you must make your complaint within six months of first knowing about the problem. In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit.

If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.

How do I complain?

You can complain in writing or by email.

It is easier for us to resolve complaints if you make them quickly, and directly to the relevant department. So, please talk to a member of our staff and they will try to resolve your complaint ‘on-the-spot’.

Contact us

When complaining, please tell us:

  • Your full name and address.
  • As much as you can about the complaint.
  • What has gone wrong.
  • How you would like us to resolve the matter.

What happens when I have complained?

Our complaints process has three stages:

We aim to resolve complaints quickly and easily, which could mean an ‘on-the-spot’ apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong, and immediate action to resolve the problem. 

We will give you our decision at Stage 1 in five working days or less, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

If we can’t resolve your complaint at this stage, we will explain why and tell you what you can do next. We might suggest that you take your complaint to Stage 2. You may choose to do this immediately or sometime after you get our initial decision. 

This stage deals with two types of complaint: those that have not been resolved at Stage 1 and those that are complex, serious and require detailed investigation.

When using Stage 2 we will:

  • Acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three working days.
  • Where appropriate, discuss your complaint with you to understand why you remain dissatisfied and what outcome you are looking for.
  • Give you a full response to the complaint as soon as possible and within 20 working days. If our investigation will take longer than 20 working days, we will let you know. We will agree revised time limits with you and keep you updated on our progress.

If you are still dissatisfied with our decision or the way we dealt with your complaint after we have fully investigated, you can ask the SPSO to look at it.

The SPSO cannot normally look at complaints:

  • That have not gone through all stages of our complaints procedure (so please make sure it has done so before contacting the SPSO).
  • More than 12 months after you became aware of the matter you want to complain about, or events that happened.
  • If you have been, or are being, considered in court.

For more information, please contact the SPSO.

Getting help with your complaint

We understand that you may be unable, or reluctant, to make a complaint yourself. 

We accept complaints from the representative of a person who is dissatisfied with our service.

We can take complaints from a friend, relative, or an advocate, if you have given them your consent to complain for you.

If this is the case, we will need to write back to you to verify you have given this consent.

You can find out about advocates in your area by contacting the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance.


We are committed to making our service easy to use for all members of the community and will always ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to help customers access and use our services.

If you have trouble putting your complaint in writing, or would like this information in another language or format (such as large print, audio or Braille), please contact us.

Contact us

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.