Over the last 15 years, a number of agencies have been established in the British and Irish islands that enable the independent investigation of police complaints and misconduct. This paper, based on over 100 interviews with practitioners from three such bodies, examines the independent investigation of police complaints by asking two central questions. First, how do those charged with the delivery of independence in investigations articulate ‘independence’ as a working philosophy and presentational tool? Second, what constraints or obstacles do practitioners perceive as inhibitors in the delivery of independence? On this basis, the paper presents a picture of independent investigation of police complaints as a constant interaction between the aspirations of independence and the ever-present challenges of regulatory capture.