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COMPLAINTS AGENCIES IN THE COMMONWEALTH Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

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Presentation on theme: "COMPLAINTS AGENCIES IN THE COMMONWEALTH Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative."— Presentation transcript:

1 COMPLAINTS AGENCIES IN THE COMMONWEALTH Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

2 The Debate Civilian Oversight - a relatively new trend and still evolving Civilian Oversight - a relatively new trend and still evolving Internal review would be swifter and more effective Internal review would be swifter and more effective Civilian review essential in a democracy since police are ultimately responsible to the public and not police chiefs. Civilian review essential in a democracy since police are ultimately responsible to the public and not police chiefs.

3 Why have civilian oversight? Establishes the principle of police accountability; Establishes the principle of police accountability; Reduces impediments to bringing complaints; Reduces impediments to bringing complaints; Reduces public reluctance to complaints; Reduces public reluctance to complaints; Source of information about police misconduct; Source of information about police misconduct; Can alert police administrators on steps to curb abuse; Can alert police administrators on steps to curb abuse;

4 Importance for Police Managers Police managers have recognized that civilian oversight can: Improve the image of the police and its relationship with the public; Improve the image of the police and its relationship with the public; Improve the public's understanding of the nature of police work; Improve the public's understanding of the nature of police work; Promote community policing; Promote community policing; Improve the quality of a police agency's internal investigations; Improve the quality of a police agency's internal investigations; Reassure the public that the police agency investigates complaints thoroughly and fairly; Reassure the public that the police agency investigates complaints thoroughly and fairly; Discourage misconduct amongst police officers, and Discourage misconduct amongst police officers, and Improve a police agency's policies and procedures. Improve a police agency's policies and procedures.

5 Importance for Elected Officials Elected officials have indicated that civilian oversight: Demonstrates their concern to their constituencies about police conduct; and Demonstrates their concern to their constituencies about police conduct; and Can assist in reducing civil claims against a police agency. Can assist in reducing civil claims against a police agency.

6 Importance for the Public Members of the public have reported that civilian oversight has: Satisfied them that the police agency can be held accountable; Satisfied them that the police agency can be held accountable; Helped reassure them that appropriate discipline is being implemented for police misconduct; Helped reassure them that appropriate discipline is being implemented for police misconduct; Discouraged police misconduct; and Discouraged police misconduct; and Improved their understanding of police work. Improved their understanding of police work.

7 Form and Mandate FORM: dedicated solely to the investigation and oversight of complaints against the police. FORM: dedicated solely to the investigation and oversight of complaints against the police. Have a wider mandate. The Mauritius HRC. Have a wider mandate. The Mauritius HRC. MANDATE: individual complaints; MANDATE: individual complaints; patterns of functioning and behaviour; patterns of functioning and behaviour; look at human rights violations; look at human rights violations; mandated to look at police corruption. mandated to look at police corruption. other aspects of police performance, and make recommendations for future change. other aspects of police performance, and make recommendations for future change.

8 Importance of coordination between multiple agencies Protects against overlapping, duplication and contradictory recommendations. Protects against overlapping, duplication and contradictory recommendations. Example: Independent Complaints Directorate, Human Rights Commission, and the Police in South Africa Example: Independent Complaints Directorate, Human Rights Commission, and the Police in South Africa Example: Police Integrity Commission, Ombudsman and the Police in New South Wales, Australia Example: Police Integrity Commission, Ombudsman and the Police in New South Wales, Australia

9 Sources of complaints The public; The public; From the Minister in charge or even parliament - South Africa; From the Minister in charge or even parliament - South Africa; Suo moto; Suo moto; Certain categories of crime compulsorily referred to the civilian oversight body – PIC, IPCC. Certain categories of crime compulsorily referred to the civilian oversight body – PIC, IPCC.

10 Requirements for a successful complaints agency Independence; Independence; Adequate powers; Adequate powers; Sufficient resources; and Sufficient resources; and Authority to follow up on recommendations. Authority to follow up on recommendations.

11 Independence Constitutional or statutory underpinnings – South Africa, U.K., and New South Wales Constitutional or statutory underpinnings – South Africa, U.K., and New South Wales Leadership drawn from outside the police and government. IPCC Leadership drawn from outside the police and government. IPCC Where the skill pool is small, practical reality may require using available police skills. Where the skill pool is small, practical reality may require using available police skills. Civilian superiority in staffing is a must. Civilian superiority in staffing is a must.

12 Adequate Powers Powers to investigate and not merely review; Powers to investigate and not merely review; Call for evidence & compel police cooperation; Call for evidence & compel police cooperation; PIC - search warrants, obtain listening device or telecommunications interception warrants and ensure witness protection. PIC - search warrants, obtain listening device or telecommunications interception warrants and ensure witness protection. The IPCC has all the powers of the police. The IPCC has all the powers of the police. Make recommendations about systemic improvements. Helps i dentify and address root causes of complaints. PIC and IPCC Make recommendations about systemic improvements. Helps i dentify and address root causes of complaints. PIC and IPCC

13 Investigative Powers These bodies do not investigate all cases These bodies do not investigate all cases The agency investigates serious cases; and The agency investigates serious cases; and Supervise or monitor other investigations Supervise or monitor other investigations England and Wales: IPCC investigates, IPCC manages, IPCC supervises, and police investigate. England and Wales: IPCC investigates, IPCC manages, IPCC supervises, and police investigate. Remember: Total delegation erodes credibility. Remember: Total delegation erodes credibility.

14 Resources Financial independence - budget is voted by the legislative body, and not allocated by the executive. Financial independence - budget is voted by the legislative body, and not allocated by the executive. Even small states like Lesotho have decided that the investment is well worth making. Even small states like Lesotho have decided that the investment is well worth making. Sri Lanka and Pakistan have also created such bodies Sri Lanka and Pakistan have also created such bodies In small jurisdictions, creating a specialist division within existing bodies can improve overall police accountability. In small jurisdictions, creating a specialist division within existing bodies can improve overall police accountability.

15 Following up Recommendations Very few can make binding decisions - The Ugandan HRC and the IPCC. Very few can make binding decisions - The Ugandan HRC and the IPCC. In other cases, the concerned Minister or police department publicly respond to the recommendations. Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP and PIC. In other cases, the concerned Minister or police department publicly respond to the recommendations. Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP and PIC. Example: New South Wales – of the 56 recommendations made prior to , over 90% were supported by the NSW Police and nearly half had already been implemented. Example: New South Wales – of the 56 recommendations made prior to , over 90% were supported by the NSW Police and nearly half had already been implemented.

16 Conclusion Dedicated Civilian agencies have been the most successful in holding the police to account. Dedicated Civilian agencies have been the most successful in holding the police to account. Single focus agencies; Single focus agencies; Develop expertise in policing issues and investigative techniques; and Develop expertise in policing issues and investigative techniques; and Increase capacity to analyse patterns of police conduct and performance. Increase capacity to analyse patterns of police conduct and performance.


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