Complain about the police

Last updated: 15 May 2019

You can complain about:

  • the quality of service you've received from Police Scotland
  • the way a police officer or member of Police Scotland staff has acted

How to complain

You can make a complaint by:

You can also make your complaint in writing to:

Professional Standards Department
P.O. Box 2460
Police Scotland
Dalmarnock
Glasgow
G40 9BA

When you make your complaint the police will want to know:

  • when the incident happened
  • where it happened
  • what happened
  • which officer(s) or member(s) of staff you're complaining about
  • if there were any witnesses
  • how you want to be contacted

What happens after you make a complaint

If your complaint doesn't include a claim the police broke the law, it may be dealt with locally. A supervisory officer (a sergeant or above) will contact you. They will either:

  • try and resolve your complaint when they talk to you
  • listen to your complaint, take details and make other enquiries - this may include speaking to the officers and witnesses involved

After your complaint has been investigated, they may decide:

  • that no further action is needed
  • to make changes so that the same thing doesn't happen again
  • to give you an apology
  • that those involved need training or advice
  • that those involved need to go through disciplinary or criminal procedures

Whatever is the result of your complaint, the police will let you know. They will aim to issue a final letter no later than 56 days after the complaint is first made. Rare cases may take longer, but you will be told if this has to happen.

If your complaint is about a police officer breaking the law, it will be referred to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), who are independent of the police.

COPFS will consider the case and decide whether or not to prosecute.

Complaints about senior officers

If your complaint is about the Chief Constable, a Deputy Chief Constable or an Assistant Chief Constable, contact the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).

If you're unhappy about how your complaint has been handled

Contact the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) if you're not satisfied with the way your complaint was dealt with.

The PIRC is independent of the police.

You must send your application to the PIRC within 3 months of the date on which the police sent you its findings about your complaint.

If your application isn't received within 3 months of that date, the PIRC may be unable to accept your case.

Help with your complaint

Contact Citizens Advice on 0808 800 9060 or visit a bureau for help with complaints about the police.