Complain about the police

Last updated: 4 May 2018

You can complain about:

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

How to complain

You can make a complaint by:

You can also make your complaint in writing to:

Professional Standards Department
Police Headquarters Scotland
P.O. Box 21184
FK10 9DE

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 isn't about a criminal matter, it will be dealt with locally. A supervisory officer, a sergeant or above, will contact you. They will find out more and speak to the officers and witnesses involved.

After your complaint has been investigated, they may decide:

  • to make changes so that the same thing doesn't happen again
  • to give you an apology
  • that those involved need training, counselling or advice to improve their performance – this could involve the police officer or member of staff being disciplined
  • that no further action is needed

Whatever the result of your complaint is, the police will let you know.

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.