POLICE COMPLAINT AUTHORITY: ACCOUNTABILITY AND REVIEW

For many years there has been concern about lack of independence in the system of investigating complaints against police officers. The police hold a unique position in society with powers to interfere in the lives of the public and responsibilities to act independently to uphold the law.Inevitably at times this places them in positions of dispute and conflict and will lead to complaints.If citizens are to have confidence in the police service as a whole they must feel that when they complain about individual instances of police misconduct. Their allegations will be investigated thoroughly and impartially. The current system which independently do supervision is the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) for  police personnel complaints made by citizens, organisation or forum of the country. 

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published a report criticising the current system of handling complaints against police officers. The Committee found that: ‘From the very beginning of the complaints process at which stage the police retain sole discretion as to whether to record a complaint through an investigation conducted and controlled by police officers to the moment at which a police officer is required to assess the criminal and/or disciplinary implications of that investigation, the police themselves maintain a firm grip upon the handling of complaints against them.’ As a result of these findings the CPT made the following recommendation for reform: 

‘ The CPT entertains reservations about whether the Police Complaints Authority, even equipped with the enhanced powers which have been proposed, will be capable of persuading public opinion that complaints against the police are vigorously investigated. In the view of the CPT, the creation of a fully-fledged independent investigating agency would be a most welcome development.’

There are three systems in foreign jurisdictions that we have found particularly useful when considering reform in this country, because of the extensive investigative powers that have been given to the civilian oversight bodies. The Criminal Justice Commission in Queensland, Australia. It is an organisation independent of the police which investigates the majority of cases of misconduct by the Queensland Police Service. The Special Investigations Unit in Ontario, Canada. It is an organisation independent of the police which investigates all cases where death or serious injury to a civilian may have been caused by a police officer. The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. The Office of the Ombudsman was created following the Hayes report on reform to the Northern Ireland police complaints system. It is a body independent of the police. The Ombudsman’s Office had started operating in October 2000 and will have strong powers to investigate a large proportion of the complaints made against officers in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland (Police) Act 1998 is the legislation which empowers the Ombudsman’s Office.

We must need to highlights some point for better functionality of PCA and it’s fair implementation in India. As of now investigation of police officers by their own or another Police Service is widely regarded as unjust and does not inspire public confidence. For PCA, independent investigation would be desirable in principle, it would give boost to public confidence in the system. We  can further suggest three model for PCA to get accountability on complaints. In Model 1, the PCA only investigates a few hundred of the particularly serious and high profile complaints. All other complaints will either be informally resolved or investigated by the police. Of those, some will be supervised.This is clearly the model that will cost the least in terms of recruitment and training and the number of offices needed. It also means that police participation in the system will be extensive, since they will be investigating the vast majority of complaints. However, if the PCA is restricted to investigating only the mysterious complaints it will inspire little confidence in the rest of the system. Model 2, in which the PCA investigates all complaints, will provide the greatest public and complainant confidence. The cost of this system will be the most expenditures factor. The number of civilian investigators that would have to be trained. The number of offices that would have to be found. It would require a substantial investment. The lack of police involvement would also be a problem. A police service which had no power to respond to complaints would be unlikely to take any responsibility for its relationship with the public. It would be polarised from the PCA itself Model 3 combines elements of both the first two models. It includes a category of complaints so serious that they require mandatory independent investigation.The same category which would be investigated under Model 1. However, under this model the PCA should investigate a significant proportion of the less serious cases that do not fall within the scope of mandatory investigation. Informal resolution would remain in the hands of the police.But the PCA would have a range of powers to ensure its proper use. In order to build trust in police complaints authority we must concerns for individual justice in democratic India.

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