The police should not investigate themselves when accused of criminal wrongdoing

Dear Editor,

Public confidence in the police is fundamental to democratic policing, and satisfaction with the complaints process is essential if the police are to secure and maintain public support. According to former Chancellor Kennard, head of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), the effectiveness of this body, especially in making field visits to outlying regions, steadily improved despite staff shortages. However, the PCA should not rely on the on the Guyana Police Force to conduct investigations into complaints against its own officers.

In many cases the police do not comply with the PCA’s recommendations on complaints, and long delays in getting reports from the Commissioner of Police significantly hampered the complaints process. Police were seldom prosecuted for unlawful killings and torture.

The media and the public contribute to the ongoing debate on whether the police should be responsible for the investigation of complaints against their colleagues in criminal matters.

There is growing support for independent investigations. Both the PCA and the public recommend the creation of an independent body with a similar organisational structure which is impartial and transparent. The PCA should supervise complaints and investigations which are connected with death or serious injury alleged to have been caused by policemen. The fact that police play a part in investigating themselves is damaging to the integrity of the process and raises serious questions regarding the transparency.

Yours faithfully,
Mohamed Khan

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