What we do


We conduct independent investigations into the most serious incidents involving the police

From 1 April 2013, the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 extended the remit of the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland (PCCS) to also include independent investigations into the most serious incidents involving the police.  The organisation was renamed the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner to reflect this change.  Find out more about the kind of investigations the PIRC is responsible for.

We review the way the police handle complaints from the public

If you have made a complaint about an individual police officer or civilian staff member from any of the police bodies operating in Scotland and are dissatisfied with how the organisation involved dealt with your complaint, the PIRC may be able to review the way your complaint was handled. 

The PIRC can also consider complaints about the way a police organisation responded to a complaint about how it delivered a policing service.  Additionally, a police organisation can also ask us to review the way in which it has handled a complaint. 

Before we can consider any complaints, the police organisation concerned must first be given the opportunity to consider and respond.  This gives them chance to resolve it.  The PIRC can only review a complaint after it has been investigated fully by the police organisation concerned. You can find the address for all police organisations here and download our guide for complaints about the police

What we can't do

The PIRC does not have the remit to consider complaints which suggest that a police officer, civilian staff member or police organisation has committed a crime.  These complaints will be dealt with by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).

Although the PIRC has the power to consider non-criminal complaints about the police, we do not review complaints from individuals surrounding employment or staffing issues concerning their service with a policing organisation.   

You can download a copy of A guide for complaints about the police which explains the roles of the PIRC and the COPFS in relation to complaints about the police.

Find out how to request a PIRC review here, or download A guide for the public on the role of the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner. 

Continuous improvement

It is the job of the PIRC to make sure that complaints about the police are dealt with efficiently and effectively.  Part of this work involves ensuring that all policing bodies in Scotland have suitable arrangements in place for handling complaints about the police, learn lessons when something has gone wrong and continuously look for ways to improve the way they work. Find out how the PIRC quality assurance work supports this.