Policy actions  2 of 4

Police complaints, investigations and misconduct

We are committed to improving how complaints about the police are dealt with, to help increase transparency and strengthen public confidence. 

We introduced the Police (Ethics, Conduct and Scrutiny) (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament in June 2023. This aims to: 

  • simplify the way complaints, allegations of misconduct and other concerns about the conduct of police officers are investigated 
  • help assure the public that if police officer conduct or behaviour falls short of expectations, this will be properly dealt with 

The bill covers a range of topics related to ethics and conduct. It also covers the functions and governance of the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) which investigates incidents involving the police. If passed, the bill will: 

  • make Police Scotland’s code of ethics legally binding 
  • set out a duty of candour to ensure police cooperate fully during investigations of allegations against constables 
  • give the PIRC significant new powers and in turn strengthen its governance and accountability arrangements 
  • introduce provisions to support the creation of Scottish Barred and Advisory Lists - this will strengthen existing vetting processes by ensuring officers who do not meet the standards of the police service from being able to continue to work in policing in other parts of Great Britain

Read the bill and associated impact assessments  

Find out more about the Police (Ethics, Conduct and Scrutiny) (Scotland) Bill at the Scottish Parliament website. This includes a policy memorandum, which sets out the background and policy intention of the bill, and a financial memorandum which sets out estimated costs. 

The bill is accompanied by the following impact assessments: 

 How we consulted 

In 2022 we consulted with the public about police complaints, investigations and misconduct legislation

We published an analysis of the consultation along with the consultation responses

Wider work to improve police complaint handling 

The bill has been informed by recommendations made by an independent review into how police complaints and allegations of misconduct are handled

The review published its final report in 2020, and we published a joint response with the Crown Office accepting the majority of recommendations. 

Policing and legal bodies have been working to implement the recommendations that did not need a change in law. The bill will build on this work by introducing the legislation needed to implement other recommendations.  

We publish reports setting out progress towards implementing the recommendations made by the independent review. See:

Progress is overseen by a ministerial group, strategic oversight group and practitioner working group. 

Complain about the police or Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal 

Find out how to make a complaint: 

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