An independent office to oversee police conduct

Clyde James Johnston,
  1. Ühisloomes
  2. Allkirjastamisel
  3. Riigikogus
  4. Järelkaja
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Estonia needs an independent office to oversee and investigate police conduct. This office should ensure that any misconduct or complaints by the public about police conduct are investigated thoroughly and impartially.

At present, I am advised, any public complaints against the police must be submitted to the police themselves to investigate. While the police have professional standards and processes for handling complaints, with the lack of independent oversight, public confidence in the process is limited.

The independent office should have broad powers to oversee and investigate police conduct including initiating investigations, bringing proceedings against individuals, appealing disciplinary and court decisions. The office should publish its activities and report directly to a government minister.

There main benefits are:

  1. Creates a trusted process for handling serious cases of police misconduct;
  2. Provides public confidence in the police complaints procedure for minor cases where the police themselves are asked to investigate. Complainants know the cases is being supervised by the office and have a recourse to the office if they are not satisfied with the results.
  3. Reduces the burden on courts handling such cases since most cases can be resolved between the office, the complainant and the police.

A small example where such an office would be helpful can be seen in this article in which the police fined a speeding motorist who was rushing home to his wife who was giving birth. The complainant had to dispute the matter in court which overturned the fine since the police had not use their discretionary powers appropriately.

As a model for legislation, please refer to the references below as an example of how it is practiced in England and Wales.

References

https://policeconduct.gov.uk/ https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/independent-office-for-police-conduct https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Office_for_Police_Conduct

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