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Bill to enhance independence of Police Complaints

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice
Media Statement

20 February 2003

Bill to enhance independence of Police Complaints Authority, says Goff

Legislation introduced today will enhance the independence of the Police Complaints Authority, Justice Minister Phil Goff said.

The Independent Police Complaints Authority Amendment Bill, which passed its first reading this afternoon, is the result of a review established by Mr Goff and carried out by retired High Court judge Sir Rodney Gallen to examine public perceptions of the Authority's independence.

"It is critical that when serious complaints are made against the Police, such as a Police shooting, there be no doubt as to the impartiality of the investigations and findings of the Police Complaints Authority," Mr Goff said.

"The reforms are intended to address any such doubts so that the public can have full confidence in the complaints process.

"While the Authority already has the statutory power to conduct its own investigations, it has lacked the resources to do so. To that end, a team of up to six investigators is being established. A budget of $307,000 has been set aside this year with a further $885,000 in additional funding from 2003/04 onwards. This will enhance the Authority's capacity to carry out investigations of serious complaints independent of the Police.

"I want to emphasise that the decision to amend the Act does not reflect dissatisfaction with the Police Complaints Authority’s track record. In fact it has done a lot to promote confidence in Police accountability and the overwhelming majority of complaints it dealt with have been shown to be thorough and fair.

Mr Goff said the Bill would rename the Authority as the Independent Police Complaints Authority to emphasise the impartial and independent nature of its work.

"Membership of the Authority will be increased to three people, from its current one, to ensure there is broader community representation. The Chair to be a current or retired Judge and all three members will be appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the House of Representatives," Mr Goff said.


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