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

    Before you contact the PCCS you should make your complaint first to the Complaints Department if the police organisation concerned to give them the opportunity to resolve your complaint. Click here for the addresses of police organisations in Scotland.

    If you remain unhappy following the police organisation's response to your complaint, you can contact us to review the way in which your complaint was handled.

    In order for us to consider your complaint you should complete a Complaint Review form. You can complete the form online, download a copy or ask us to post it to you.


  • What kind of complaints can you review?

    We can review the way in which a police organisation has handled a complaint about the behaviour of a police officer or civilian member of staff. We can also look at complaints about a policing service delivered by a policing organisation.

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

    No. There is no time limit for bringing complaints to the PCCS. You can ask the PCCS to review your complaint as long as the police organisation has had the chance to investigate it first.

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

    No. Our service is free of charge.

  • Are there any complaints that you cannot review?

    We do not review complaints from individuals about employment or staffing issues concerning their service with a policing organisation.

    The PCCS 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). For further information on its role please click here.

  • What sort of information should I include on my Complaint Review Form?

    Your completed form should include the following information:

    ~the circumstances that led to your complaint - try to detail who was involved, when the events occured and what happened

    ~what your complaint about the police is - tell us what you are unhappy about and why. Try to be specific using bullet points to list your reasons

    ~what the police organisation has done to try to resolve your complaint and the result

    ~copies of correspondence with the police organisation along with any other paperwork you feel is relevant to your complaint

    ~what you would like to happen as a result of your complaint, for example an apology or a change in policy

  • Can anyone help me complete my Complaint Review 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 draft your complaint. There are a number of support organisations on our Links Page that may also be able to offer you assistance.

    We are able to take your complaint in a number of different languages. Please contact us for further information. 

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

    Yes. You can ask another person to complain on your behalf, for example a solicitor or friend. You should complete the Consent Form section of the Complaint Review Form to give your permission for someone to contact the PCCS on your behalf.

  • Can I make my complaint anonymously?

    You can make an enquiry to the PCCS anonymously. However, we cannot review your complaint about the police unless we have information about you and your consent for us to speak to the police organisation about your complaints. We will ask for these details in our Complaint Review Form.

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

  • How will you review my complaint?

    The PCCS will request the case papers relating to your complaint from the police organisation concerned. We examine the facts of the case, looking at information provided by both the complainer and the police organisation. The PCCS will consider whether the information available does or does not support the complaint and whether or not the police organisation has responded to the complaint in a reasonable manner. The Commissioner will then come to a view on whether the conclusions drawn by the police organisation were reasonable in the circumstances.

    Once conclusions have been reached the PCCS will prepare a report (known as a complaint handling review) which will detail the findings. The complaint handling review is then sent to the complainer and the police organisation concerned who will be informed of any action the Commissioner intends to take in consequence of these conclusions. Any police officer or member of staff involved in the complaint will be informed of the outcome of the complaint handling review.

  • How long will it take to review my complaints?

    We review complaints on a chronological basis. We aim to assess, allocate and review your complaint as qucikly as possible. However, as each case is different the time taken to review it will vary, depending on factors such as the complexity of the complaint or the volume of information we receive from you and the police organisation involved.

    We will strive to complete our review of your complaint within 12 months and will keep you informed of progress on a regular basis.

  • Will your complaint handling review name me?

    No. In the spirit of openness and transparency, we usually publish the outcome of our complaint handling reviews on our website. Although the complaint handling review will name the police organisation complained about, it will not name the person who made the complaint or anyone else involved. We will try not to include any information that could identify you or anyone involved in your complaint.

  • Do you represent me?

    No. The PCCS is impartial. We review complaints in an independent, open and fair manner, looking at both sides of what has happened and considering the facts.

  • Can you give me legal advice?

    We are impartial and are not qualified to give legal advice. If we cannot review your complaint then we will try to direct you to an organisation that may be able to help you.

    If you would like to know more about seeking legal advice you should contact the Scottish Legal Aid Board

  • Can you ask a police organisation to award me compensation?


  • Are you connected to the police?

    No. The PCCS is an independent organisation. It is a condition of the Commissioner's appointment that they have no previous connections to specific police bodies. Schedule 4 of the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 lists the limitations on appointment of the Commissioner. Further details can be found at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2006/10/schedule/4

  • How is the PCCS funded?

    Our funding is determined by Scottish Ministers and paid through the Justice Department of the Scottish Government. We publish audited accounts for each financial year.

  • How does the PCCS avoid conflicts of interest occurring in its work?

    The Commissioner is entirely independent of the police service and in terms of statute must have no prior connections to the police.

    In addition, all PCCS staff have a clause in their contracts obliging them to declare to line managers any potential conflict of interest in their work. This could include previous knowledge of the complaint or the complainers.

    Where such a conflict of interest arises, the member of staff concerned will take no involvement in the particular area of work.