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 room or follow the PIRC on Twitter.

We are committed to dealing with media enquiries in a professional and courteous manner as quickly as possible. 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. 


All media enquiries should be sent to our team inbox 

  • Please note, we do not operate an out of hours service, so all enquiries will be responded to during normal business hours, 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.

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 not to.
  • 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 directed 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 COPFS directed investigations the Commissioner may only publish a report in consultation with them. 

Complaint Handling Reviews (CHRs):

  • CHRs are published in our publications library on a weekly basis.  At the same time, we will publish a news story detailing a summary of the published reports.  
  • When our Review team confirms that recommendations have been implemented by policing bodies, we will update the relevant CHR in the publications library with the details.

What does the PIRC do?

We independently investigate incidents involving the police

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner can investigate:

  • Incidents involving the police, directed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). This includes 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). These 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 the Commissioner considers would be in the public interest.

At the end 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 about 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 your request for a Complaint Handling Review, you must first submit your complaint to the relevant policing body in order to give them the chance to resolve it.

Once that process is complete and the police have informed you of the outcome, if you are dissatisfied about the way your complaint has been handled you may apply to us for a CHR.

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

The PIRC cannot review the handling of complaints of a criminal nature or made by anyone who is serving, or 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 their findings are supported by available information.

At the end of a CHR, the Commissioner can ask the police to look again at the handling of a complaint, or recommend improvements to the way they handle complaints in future.

The PIRC also ensures that the SPA and Police Scotland have suitable systems in place 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. Contact Police Scotland here

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.