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The police have a very crucial duty in the society and the justice system. They enforce the law by aiding in enhancing the safety and security of the community. However, they are liable to a lot of transgressions due to the nature of their job and research confirms that the police department is among the most notorious in corruption (White, 2007 p. 20). Therefore, civilian oversight bodies have been established to be custodians of the police. The major role of these bodies is to ensure the public retains its confidence in the police department and improve the policing operations by imposing police accountability for their actions, policies and organizations to help police officials stay focused in their job of enforcing peace and order as recommended by Head, Brown & Connors ( 2008, p. 3). Their aim is to prevent police misconduct which they do by identifying, investigating and making appropriate recommendations based on their findings. Some of these oversight bodies in New Zealand and Australia are Police Integrity Commission, Crime and Misconduct Commission and Independent Police Conduct Authority. The paper critically analyses the three bodies, comparing and contrasting their scope of operation, powers and their effectiveness in meeting their objective.
The independent oversight bodies, PIC, IPCA and CAC inclusive, are established by legislators’ acts hence are answerable to the government through an annual report to the parliament concerning their annual work, achievements, challenges and recommendations Kerrigan (2003, p. 56). They are charged with the responsibility of enhancing the public’s confidence in the police for the purpose of maintain harmony. Therefore, their main objective is to oversee the conduct of the police to ensure that their operations, procedures and actions are in accordance with the law and the police cord of conduct to aid stem the overgrowing complains concerning injustices by the police and neglect of duty for the sake of a better society as implied by Ross & Parke (2009, p. 3).
The Police Integrity Commission does identify and investigate serious cases of misconduct and those regarding public interest just like the Independent Police Conduct Authority. On completion of the investigations, they forward their findings to the appropriate authorities since they lack the power to prosecute. IPCA forwards their findings to the police and if unsatisfied with the action taken by the police intern report to the Attorney General and the Police Minister who interns reports to the parliament and necessary actions are taken. IPCA refers the majority of minor complaints and those regarding breach of police code of conduct to the police for investigation while in NSW such cases are handled by Ombudsman as explained by Hryniewicz (2011, p. 3).
PIC, IPCA and CAC do hold public hearings in order to gain the public’s trust by showing openness and transparency although they also have private hearings in case of delicate issues but release a report to the public on completion of investigations. Their major objective in conducting the hearing is to find the truth thus use minimal legal procedures and is not bounded by the norm of evidence. They do enhance their efficiency by conducting objective and comprehensive research concerning any complaint presented to them by the civilians against the police as implied by Sen (2010, p. 34).
Prenzier & Ronken (2001, p. 2) states that the independent oversight police bodies have different scope, constitution, duties and responsibilities that arise as a result of historical factors that contributed<.............
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