Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012

On 1 April 2013, the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 brings together the eight police forces in Scotland as the single Police Service of Scotland. At the same time, the remit of the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland (PCCS) will be expanded to include investigations into the most serious incidents involving the police. To mark this change PCCS will be renamed the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC).

See links opposite for more information. This page will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

What we do

If you have a complaint about an individual police officer, on or off duty, or a civilian staff member, the PCCS may be able to review the way in which the police organisation handled your complaint.  We can also review complaints about how a police organisation has delivered a policing service.

A police organisation can also ask us to review the way in which it has handled a complaint. 

What to do if you have a complaint

Before we can consider your complaint you must first have given the police organisation the opportunity to consider and respond. This gives the police organisation concerned a chance to resolve it.  The PCCS 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 on the Links page of this site.

Public leaflet cover

For more information about how to make a complaint and our complaint handling process you can download our leaflet "A guide for the public on the role of the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland"

For more information about our complaint handling process click here.

What we can do when reviewing a complaint

We review complaints in an independent, open and fair manner, looking at both sides of what has happened and considering the facts.  Following the consideration of your complaint we will normally produce a complaint handling review outlining the Commissioner's conclusions. 

The Commissioner has a range of options available to him.  If he is unhappy with the response a police organisation gave to a complaint, the Commissioner can recommend that it reconsiders the complaint. 

In some circumstances he may decide to supervise the reconsideration himself, or ask another person to supervise it.  He can also recommend that that a police organisation makes changes to policies and procedures.

Continuous improvement

I want to help in developing a culture of continuous improvement where the police service learns from complaints to improve practice, policy and processes.
The Commissioner

It is the job of the PCCS 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. Follow this link for more information on how the PCCS Quality Assurance work supports this.

The PCCS is currently undertaking a review of Scottish police organisations' existing arrangements for complaint handling.  More information on this review will be published on the Quality Assurance pages of this site when it is available.

PCCS collects statistical information on complaints about the police in Scotland.  The data for 2008/2009 is available in the reports section of this website, click here to read the report in full.  Before the creation of the PCCS this work was carried out by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary Scotland (HMICS).  Click here to see the data on complaints about the police from previous years.

What we can't do

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).Complaints about the police leaflet 

Although the PCCS 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 PCCS and the COPFS in relation to complaints about the police.