How to make a complaint or request a review of the way your complaint has been handled


Before you contact the PIRC, we recommend that you read these pages carefully to make sure that you have completed all steps necessary for the PIRC to be able to assist you.  You can also download A guide for the public on the role of the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner.

Making A Complaint About The Police

What can the PIRC review?

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.

We call these Complaint Handling Reviews

Who can make a complaint?

You can make a complaint if you are:

  • the person in relation to whom the alleged failing occurred
  • any other person who claims to be adversely affected by the alleged failing
  • any person who claims to have witnessed the alleged failing

Which police organisations can I complain about?

A policing organisation could be a police service, police authority or policing agency.  Police Scotland came into being on 1 April 2013 following the merging of the ten police services operating in Scotland.      

The PIRC can also review complaints about the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) which is responsible for resourcing Police Scotland and dealing with complaints about senior police officers. 

In addition, the PIRC can review complaints about the Scottish operations of the following UK-wide police bodies:

British Transport Police and British Transport Police Authority
Civil Nuclear Constabulary and Civil Nuclear Police Authority
Ministry of Defence Police
The National Crime Agency
HM Revenue and Customs

In addition, the Commissioner may review complaints from the public and undertake investigations of any serious incidents involving an immigration officer, general customs officials, customs revenue official or other relevant individual acting in the exercise of the specified enforcement functions in Scotland.
The Home Office

Are there any complaints that the PIRC can't consider?

If you received your response from the police after 1 April 2013, you must submit a completed application for review within three months of the date on which the police communicated its findings to you. If we receive your application after three months have passed, the PIRC may be unable to consider your case.

If you received your response from the police prior to 1 April 2013 you must submit a completed application for review within six months of the date on which the police communicated its findings to you. If we receive your application after six months have passed, the PIRC may be unable to consider your case.

The PIRC does not have the power to review a complaint which suggests that a police organisation, officer or civilian staff member has committed a crime.  These complaints are considered by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service

We cannot review complaints from individuals about employment or staffing issues concerning their service with a police organisation.

Although the PIRC can review the way that a complaint has been dealt with, we do not carry out further investigation.  Find out more about our review process and possible outcomes to a review

If your complaint is about a matter or organisation that we cannot review, we will try to point you to another body that may be able to help you.  View our list of useful contacts and websites.

For further information on the remit and powers of the PIRC in relation to reviews, please see the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006, as amended by the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012.

Making A Complaint About The PIRC

Should you wish to make a complaint about the PIRC or any member of the PIRC's staff please see the information in the leaflet here