Frequently asked questions
We’ve put together a list of questions that people often ask us about our work, and the complaints process.
We have a Director General, who leads the executive team and also chairs our Board, which includes six non-executive directors. Find out more about our leadership team.
The Board meets regularly and makes the key decisions for the organisations about things such as our overall strategy and where to prioritise resources.
Decisions about investigations are made by the decision maker for that particular investigation.
Yes - we are not part of the police or the government, and make our decisions independently.
Find out more about our independence and governance.
No. The police discipline system is the responsibility of police forces and is administered by them.
Information recorded by forces about the outcomes of misconduct and criminal investigations is published by the Home Office. This includes information relating to our investigations, and also investigations carried out by the police.
No, we do not employ serving police officers.
By law, our Director General can never have worked for the police. None of our executive team, regional directors, or our Director for Wales have worked for the police either.
Approximately 20% of our staff in other jobs, including our investigators, have worked for forces in police or civilian roles. We value the experience and perspective our staff bring to the work we do, whatever their background.
All our investigations are undertaken on behalf of the Director General but are carried out by investigators based out of one our regional offices.
Find out more about our investigations and how they work.
We have legal powers that require police forces to provide any material which we think will help our investigations.
Our investigators have the powers of a police constable, including the power of arrest, and we can enter police premises to view and seize any material which is relevant to our investigations.
We work with Leaders Unlocked to recruit 16-24 year olds from across England and Wales.
The panel then work with us to understand why young people have low confidence in the police complaints system and how we can change this.
Previous versions of our website and corresponding publications are available on our National Archives website.
The police complaints system
Visit our guide to making a complaint to find out how to complain, who investigates and what happens when you make a complaint.
Police forces must refer the most serious incidents to us whether or not someone has made a complaint. For example, if police action results in a member of the public being seriously injured or dying:
- while in custody
- after they’ve had contact with the police
- as a result of a police shooting
- in a road accident involving the police
The police can also refer incidents to us if they have concerns about the conduct of their officers or staff. In 2022/23 we received more than 6,000 referrals from the police, but the majority of referrals are not investigated independently by us.
Find out more about our investigations.
No. We can recommend that an apology is offered, but we cannot direct the police to do this.
No. Our remit doesn’t cover claims for compensation from the police.
If you want to pursue any financial claims against the police, you should contact the police force concerned. You can also contact your local Citizens Advice for more information or to seek legal advice.
No. The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) does not fall under our jurisdiction. You should raise any disputes about the information on your Criminal Record Disclosure directly with DBS.
If you have applied for a DBS check but are experiencing delays, you should contact the DBS directly. If your complaint to the DBS reveals that the delay is the responsibility of the local police force, then you may complain directly to the police force concerned.