Here you can find out more about the type of investigations we conduct: who can refer an incident to us; the legislation that enables us to carry out investigations and the meaning of some of the terms we use.
The COPFS can direct the Commissioner to investigate:
This is defined as including:
The Chief Constable must refer serious incidents involving the police to the Commissioner. 'Serious incidents’ means:
The 'use of a firearm' means:
The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) must refer to the Commissioner:
A 'senior officer' means a police officer who holds the rank of Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) or above.
The PIRC can only investigate alleged misconduct by a senior officer of Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) rank or above following a referral from the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).
The Commissioner may investigate matters relating to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) or Police Scotland where she considers that it would be in the public interest to do so.
PIRC investigators have the powers and privileges of a constable when investigating a matter directed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). This includes the power to: arrest, question, report for prosecution and seize productions (including firearms, drugs and any other materials or documents).
When carrying out an investigation following a referral from the Chief Constable or SPA, the Commissioner's investigators may: enter Police Scotland or SPA premises; inspect those premises and anything on those premises (which is considered relevant to the investigation); and remove anything that is considered relevant to the investigation.
You can find out more about what to expect if the PIRC’s investigators want to speak to you in our 'For Police' section.
When conducting an investigation referred by the Chief Constable or Scottish Police Authority (SPA), PIRC investigators can require an officer or member of police staff, if they are considered to be a witness to events, to produce any document, record or other information that may be required in a form acceptable to the Commissioner.
If the PIRC contacts you as part of an investigation, it will only ever be in your capacity as a witness to an incident. The PIRC has no power to investigate anyone other than those serving with the police.
No, but they can choose to do so.
The legislative provisions applying to PIRC investigations are contained in:
If, at any point during an investigation into a matter referred by a policing body, the PIRC finds that there is an inference of criminality, the PIRC must suspend the investigation, notify the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and await instructions on how to proceed.