Review FAQs

 

  • I have a complaint about the police, what should I do first?

    Before you contact the PIRC you should make your complaint first to the Professional Standards Department at the police body involved to give them the opportunity to resolve your complaint.  Click here for contact details of the police bodies that operate in Scotland

    If you remain unhappy following the final response to your complaint from the police, you can contact us to request a review of the way your complaint was handled.

    In order for the PIRC to consider your complaint you should complete an application form.  You can do this online, download a copy or ask us to post it to you.

     

  • Is the PIRC independent of the police?

    The PIRC is an independent organisation.  It is a condition of the Commissioner's appointment that they must not be, or have been, a member of specific police bodies. Schedule 4 of the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 lists the limitations on appointment of the Commissioner. Click here for further details.

     

  • What kind of complaints can you review?

    We can review the way that your complaint about the behaviour of police officers or civilian members of police staff has been handled by the police body concerned.  We can also look at complaints about the quality of service that is provided by the police body.

     

  • Are there any complaints that you cannot review?

    The PIRC does not have the power to review a complaint 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.  Click here for further information on its role.

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

     

  • Is there a time limit for bringing complaints to the PIRC?

    Yes. If you received your response from the police after 1 April 2013, the PIRC must receive your completed application form within three months of the date on which the police body communicated to you its findings about your complaint. Unless the PIRC is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances for the delay, we may not be able to consider your complaint if three months or more have elapsed since the police findings were communicated to you.

    Yes. If you received your response from the police prior to 1 April 2013, the PIRC must receive your completed application form within six months of the date on which the police body communicated to you its findings about your complaint. Unless the PIRC is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances for the delay, we may not be able to consider your complaint if six months or more have elapsed since the police findings were communicated to you.

  • Do I have to pay to bring a complaint to the PIRC?

    No. Our review service is free of charge.

     

  • What sort of information should I include about my complaint on my application form?

    To carry out a review, we need to know the complaints you have made to the police body where you are unhappy with the final response you have received.  Try to be as specific as possible. We do not need the background to your complaint to be explained on your application.

     

  • Can anyone help me complete my application form?

    If you need help completing the form you could ask a family member or friend to help you.  You can also contact your local Citizen's Advice Bureau or solicitor who may be able to help you.  Find contact details of support organisations that may also be able to offer you assistance.

     

  • Can I ask someone to submit my complaint to the PIRC on my behalf?

    Yes.  You can ask another person to act on your behalf, for example a friend, relative or solicitor.  You should complete the consent form section of the application to give us permission to deal with your representative.

     

  • Can I make my complaint anonymously?

    You can make an enquiry to the PIRC anonymously, however, we cannot review your complaint about a police body without your personal details.  We need to have information about you and your complaints as well as your authorisation to speak to the police body concerned about your complaints.  We will ask for all of this information on the application form.

    All the reviews we publish are anonymised in order to protect the identity of those involved in the complaint.

     

  • How will you review my complaint?

    The PIRC will request the case papers relating to your complaint from the police body involved.  We examine the facts of the case and will consider whether or not the information available supports the complaint.  We will also look at the police body's response to you and consider whether this addresses your complaint.  The PIRC will then form a view on whether the complaint was dealt with to a reasonable standard.

    The outcome of your complaint handling review will be explained in either a report or a letter which will be sent to both you and the police body.  Any police officer or member of civilian staff involved in the complaint will be informed of the outcome of the PIRC review.  For more information on this topic, please see our review process.

     

  • Will the Commissioner personally review my complaint?

    The PIRC operates a scheme of delegation for its reviews.  The Commissioner is involved personally in reviews which are considered to raise serious issues. The Commissioner delegates to senior staff responsibility for dealing with cases which are not considered to fall into this category. Some reviews are concluded by way of a decision letter which will normally be issued by the Review Officer responsible for the case, subject to the approval of senior staff. All decisions made in reports or decision letters are final whether they are made by the Commissioner personally or made or approved by senior staff.  

     

  • How long will it take to review my complaints?

    We review complaints on a chronological basis.  We aim to assess and review your complaint as quickly as possible, however, as each case is different the time taken to review it will vary.  This depends on a number of factors such as the complexity of the complaint or the volume of information we receive from you and the police body involved.

    We will strive to complete our review of your complaint within six months from the date we receive the papers from the police body and will keep you informed of our progress on a regular basis.

     

  • Will I be named in the review?

    No.  The PIRC often publishes the outcome of reviews on our website but you will not be named in any report or decision letter that appears online.  Although the name of the police organisation will be given, it will not name you or anyone else involved in your complaint.  We will try not to include any information that could identify you or anyone else involved in your complaint.  Likewise, any press releases issued about reviews will be anonymised. 

     

  • Do you represent me?

    No.  The PIRC is impartial and independent.  We do not represent you or any police bodies.  We review complaints in an independent, open and fair manner, looking at both sides of that has happened and considering all of the facts.

     

  • Can you give me legal advice?

    No.  We are impartial and will not provide legal advice.  If we cannot review your complaint then we will try to direct you to an organisation that may be able to help.

    If you would like to know more about seeking legal advice, you can contact the Scottish Legal Aid Board or the Law Society of Scotland.

     

  • Can you ask a police body to pay me compensation?

    No, we cannot ask any body to award you compensation.  Find out more about possible outcomes of your review.

     

     

  • What if I'm unhappy with the outcome of my review?

    Whether the case is dealt with by the Commissioner personally or by senior staff on behalf of the PIRC (including decision letters issued by Review Officers and approved by senior staff), the decision contained in the report or decision letter is final.  If you don't agree with the Commissioner's decision, you can consult your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor about what further action you can take, which could include a judicial review.