The PIRC Communications team publishes information about the activity of the organisation, including media releases, reports and corporate publications. To find the latest information visit the news page or follow the PIRC on Twitter.

We are committed to dealing with media enquiries in a professional and courteous manner as quickly as possible, both during business and out of office hours. Our team also works closely with the PIRC family liaison officers when dealing with incidents involving a death to provide guidance and support to bereaved families.

For more information and assitance with media enquiries, you can contact the PIRC media office:

For out of hours media enquiries after 1800hrs and during weekends please contact 07760 990 897.

What we publish


  • At the initial stages we will publish a statement of what the PIRC has been asked to investigate, unless there is an operational reason for not doing so.
  • During the investigation we may publish appeals for information or other related media statements where appropriate.
  • Once concluded, we may publish a report or provide an update to say that either the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) or Scottish Police Authority (SPA) is considering our findings.
  • In investigations referred by the COPFS, the Commissioner may publish a report where there has been a death and the COPFS has decided that there should be no court proceedings. For all other investigations the Commissioner may only publish a report in consultaton with the COPFS. 

Complaint Handling Reviews (CHRs):

  • News releases giving a summary of CHRs published that week
  • Regular updates to CHRs detailing where recommendations and/or reconsideration directions have been implemented by Police Scotland

What does the PIRC do?

We independently investigate incidents involving the police

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner can investigate:

  • Incidents involving the police, referred by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). This may include deaths in custody and allegations of criminality against police officers.
  • Serious incidents involving the police, at the request of the Chief Constable or the Scottish Police Authority (SPA). Requests for investigations from the Chief Constable may include the serious injury of a person in police custody, the death or serious injury of a person following contact with the police or the use of firearms by police officers.
  • Allegations of misconduct by senior police officers of the rank of Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) and above, if requested by the SPA.
  • Relevant police matters which they consider would be in the public interest.

At the conclusion of an investigation, the Commissioner can recommend improvements in the way the police operate and deliver their services to the public in Scotland.

We review the way the police handle complaints from the public

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) can review:

  • How the police in Scotland handle complaints made to them by the public.

The purpose of the Complaint Handling Review (CHR) process is to determine whether or not the complaint was handled to a reasonable standard by the police.

Before the PIRC can consider a request for a Complaint Handling Review (CHR), you must first go through the police complaints process. Once that process has been completed and the police have informed you about the outcome of your complaint, if you are dissatisfied about the way your complaint has been handled you may apply to the PIRC for a CHR.

The PIRC must receive your application within three months of the date on which the police have sent you their decision on the outcome of their complaint.

The PIRC cannot review a complaint of a criminal nature or complaints made by individuals serving, or who formerly served, with the police about the terms and conditions of their service.

The CHR determines whether or not the complaint was handled to a reasonable standard by the police. The review may include examining whether the police undertook sufficient enquiries into the complaint or whether the response is supported by available information.

At the conclusion of a CHR, the Commissioner can make recommendations, identify learning points and direct the policing body to reconsider their response.

The PIRC also ensures that the SPA and Police Scotland's Chief Constable maintain a suitable system for handling complaints.

More background information about the PIRC

Useful statistics

Until 2014, the PIRC produced Police Complaints: Statistics for Scotland, which provided statistics on complaints received by Police Scotland and other police bodies operating here. 

The statistics are now produced by Police Scotland's professional standards department. Please go to the following link to contact Police Scotland. 

Corporate information

We publish a number of corporate documents:

  • See our Annual Reports for performance statistics on Investigations and Reviews.
  • See our Strategic Plan setting out our objectives. 
  • See our Business Plans describing the steps we are taking to deliver on those objectives.

Learning for Police

The Commissioner regularly issues a best practice bulletin for policing bodies called Learning Point to help them learn from the recommendations made by our Review and Investigation teams and to encourage improvements to the service being delivered to the public.