About PIRC

Our aim is to secure public confidence in policing in Scotland.

Image showing a set of scales to show fairness and balance and workbooks to represent our ongoing work to improve service delivery by policing bodies in Scotland

Our priorities

  • To deliver timely and high-quality investigations
  • To deliver timely and high-quality Complaint Handling Reviews and audits
  • To support, value and invest in our staff
  • To strengthen independent investigation and oversight of complaints
Strategic Plan 2023-2025

What you can expect from us

We aim to deliver a high level of service at all times. 

  • You should find our services accessible, timely, fair and clear
  • This is underpinned by our values: integrity, impartiality, respect
  • We aim to promote fair treatment and opportunity for all people

We do this throughout our policies and in our practice as an oversight body and employer. 

If you find our level of service falls short of what you expected, please let us know.

Contact us

Our key stakeholders

  • The general public
  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
  • Scottish Police Authority
  • Scottish Government
  • Police Scotland
  • British Transport Police


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

Recent changes to legislation

The Scottish Government introduced the Police (Ethics, Conduct and Scrutiny) (Scotland) Bill on 6 June 2023.

The purpose of the Bill is to deliver the recommendations, which required legislation, made by Dame Elish Angiolini. 

The recommendations were included in the final report  'Complaints Handling, Investigations and Misconduct Issues in Policing'. 

The Bill covers a range of topics related to ethics and conduct. 

We are currently looking at how these may impact the work we do and the services we provide.

The Bill includes:

  • Putting Police Scotland’s Code of Ethics on a statutory footing.
  • Setting out a 'duty of candour' to ensure police cooperate fully during investigations of allegations against constables.
  • Giving PIRC significant new powers and in turn strengthening its governance and accountability arrangements.
  • Provisions to support the creation of Scottish Barred and Advisory Lists.

Common questions asked about PIRC

The Police Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 as amended by The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012, gives the Commissioner powers to conduct investigations. These can be directed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) or requested by the Chief Constable or Scottish Police Authority (SPA).

In addition, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Investigations Procedure, Serious Incidents and Specified Weapons) Regulations 2013 provide additional powers to deal with referrals by the Chief Constable or SPA.

The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2013 extended PIRC’s remit to investigate a constable/member/officer/official with:

  • British Transport Police and the British Transport Police Authority.
  • The Civil Nuclear Constabulary and the Civil Nuclear Police Authority.
  • The Ministry of Defence Police.
  • The National Crime Agency.
  • HM Revenue and Customs.
  • A general customs official and any other person exercising general customs functions under the authority of the Secretary of State or the Director of Border Revenue.
  • An immigration officer and an official of the Secretary of State exercising functions relating to asylum and immigration.

The Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2007 allows PIRC to review the handling of complaints by the above policing bodies.

The Commissioner is also provided with powers in The Police Service of Scotland (Senior Officers) Conduct Regulations 2013, which allow for members of the Commissioner's staff to investigate in the conduct of senior officers of the rank of Assistant Chief Constable and above.

We have no punitive powers. However, we do report our findings back to the policing body with any relevant recommendations to implement.

We notify the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service when any evidence of criminality is found.


Where appropriate, some of our Investigation reports will provide feedback and highlight any opportunities for organisational learning that we identify during the investigation.

This could include improving or reviewing police standard operating procedures or policies.

Many of our reports are confidential and we are unable to comment or publish them.

Complaint Handling Reviews

If we identify failings, shortcomings or deficiencies in the way the policing body has handled your complaint, we may issue a recommendation.

A recommendation may ask the policing body to carry out further enquiries into your complaint. It may also ask them to provide you with a more detailed response or even re-assess the available evidence based on the findings of our report.

In some cases, we may issue a reconsideration direction. This means that we have concluded that your complaint must be looked at again in full.

In all cases, we look for learning opportunities for the police so that their standard of complaint handling can be improved in the future.

Please do not include any personal information, for example information about a complaint or investigation you are involved in. If you would like to share any important information with us, please visit our Contact us page to find out how to get in touch.