Criminology: police integrity commission

Dec 29, 2017 | 0 comments

Dec 29, 2017 | Miscellaneous | 0 comments

Criminology:

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 to their foundation and implementation. For instance Police Integrity Commission was established in 1996 to deal with specific issues in in the police department of New South Wales Police Force following the recommendation of the Wood Royal Commission while Independent Police Conduct Authority was founded to oversee the police force in New Zealand because it was the solution at the time and lastly, Crime and Misconduct Commission was founded following constitutional amends in 2001 that gave it the responsibility of stemming corruption among the public as well as the police force in Queensland as described by Prenzler (2004, p. 4).

The Police Integrity Commission’s activities are overseen by Inspector of the Police Integrity Commission who is a non-member of the commission. The commission employees highly qualified investigators hired from any commonwealth nations with prior knowledge of police operations. Similarly, IPCA also does not employee former offices from within the police departments as investigators they oversee to assist achieve independence although some oversight bodies do not mind as implied by Garth & Beckley (2013, p. 9).

Ransley, Anderson & Prenzler (2007, p. 6) says that the Police Integrity Commission is charged with prevention, detection and investigation of misconduct in the police departments. However, Independent Police Authority safe for preventing, detecting and investigating police misconduct also supervises the conditions of detentions and treatment of inmates to ensure that their living conditions meet the standards of the United Nations and the Human Rights Commission. Crime and misconduct Commission, on the other hand, has a wider scope of duty since it does investigate cross-public issues as well as serious and organized crimes. They also review civilian cases being investigated by the police as implied by Lonne & Thomson (2005, p. 2).

Gottschalk (2009, p. 3) give cross-public organizations such as Crime and Misconduct Commission as the most effective in retaining the public’s trust in policing organization and improving policing activities by stemming corruption as they concentrate on preventing corruption thus aid in restoring trust of the public in the police force. This is because all their activities and constitution aim at stemming the vice. They employee anti-corruption officials alongside investigators as they have realized that corruption is very difficult to deal with thus require combined efforts. CIM follows up police investigations on civilians thus ensures that they conduct their investigations according to the requirements of the law thus aiding in minimizing misconduct, neglect or corruption. They also focus on education of both the public and the police of the necessity of holding integrity for the benefit of peace and understanding in the community. This helps to foster integrity and self-discipline from within which is the ultimate solution to corruption and policing misconduct issues as recommended by Davidson & Gottschalk (2012, p. 7).

Consequently, PIC and IPCA are only effective in the short term considering their major focus is in identifying, investigating and forwarding the culprits for punishment which is more ideal in stemming breach of police code of conduct but not in preventing corruption. These organizations do face a lot challenges including difficulty in conducting investigation resulting from the complexity nature of the policing organizations. Their lack of the power to prosecute also disadvantages them since there is a possibility that the culprits may walk scot free or that the actions taken against the culprits may not be enough to stem the undesirable practices completely and they have been often accused of overstepping their boundaries Filstad & Gottschalk, 2011, p. 5). Research indicate that the public are not entirely satisfied with these commissions hence advice that the amendments ought to be made to widen their scope to focus more on fostering integrity as implied by Cordner & White (2010, p. 24). .

In summary, Police Integrity Commission, Independent Police Conduct Authority and Crime and Misconduct Commission are independent oversight police bodies based in New South Wales, New Zealand and Queen’s land respectively. Their major responsibility is to enhance the civilian’s confidence in the police by ensuring that the police are accountable for the actions, procedures and organization. More importantly they aid in minimizing corruption in the police department. They build the public’s trust through openness and transparency in their activities, independence and objectivity in their investigations and credibility of the cases investigated independently and their outcomes. These bodies have the power to investigate and make appropriate recommendations based on their findings but not the power to prosecute culprits which is kind of a setback since at some point they are accused of overstepping their boundaries. The PIC is charged with prevention, detection and investigation while the IPCA safe for those other duties does monitor the welfare of inmates. Their major focus is in investigating cases against police reported by civilians and report to the appropriate authority. Whereas, the CAM is a cross-public body that focus more on corruption mitigation and is more effective in the long term goal of stemming of the vice as their activities are directed towards cultivating integrity among the police officers and the public. Consequently PIC and IPCA are more effective in addressing civilian’s complaints about the police than in stemming corruption in the police department. Therefore, the government has been advised to transform the existing oversight bodies’ responsibility and constitution equipping them with the required power to effectively carry out their job.

References

Cordner, G., & White, S. (2010). The evolving relationship between police research and police practice. Police Practice and Research. doi: 10.1080/156142100590753

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Head, B., Brown, A. J., & Connors, C. (2008). Promoting integrity: Evaluating and improving public institutions. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.

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Lonne, B., & Thomson, J. (2005). Critical review of Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission Inquiry into abuse of Children in Foster care: Social work’s contribution to reform. Australian Social Work. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0748.2005.00194.x

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