News you can use – To whom do I report the police?

John Doe said he was physically abused by a group of policemen after he refused to allow them to search his house without a warrant.
Mr. Doe says he is afraid to report the matter to the police and wants to know if there is any other agency or body to which he could report the incident.
What is the Police Public Complaints Authority?

The authority is an independent, non-police agency of the Ministry of Justice with the power to investigate allegations of misconduct filed by members of the public against members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and its auxiliaries. Investigations are conducted in an impartial and objective fashion by the authority’s investigative staff, which is made up solely of civilian employees.

Who comprises the authority?

The authority consists of three persons appointed by the governor general in his discretion by instrument under the broad seal (one of whom is appointed executive chairman).

What are the legal functions of the authority?

a) To monitor the investigation by the force of any complaint or other matter to which the act applies with a view to ensuring that such investigation is conducted impartially.

b) To supervise the investigation of complaints by the force.

c) To undertake direct investigation of complaints.

d) To evaluate and report to the minister of justice from time to time on the system of handling complaints.

Who may make a complaint?

Complaints may be made by a member of the public, whether or not that person is affected by the subject of the complaint, or by any person on behalf of a member of the public so affected, but with his written consent.

What happens to a complaint after it is filed?

The complaint is assigned to an investigator who will commence investigation immediately. The investigator will gather as much information as possible about the complaint through records of the police department, field visits, interviews of witnesses, police officers and other available sources. The authority will inform you by letter of the status of an ongoing investigation. At the close of the investigation, the case is thoroughly reviewed by the authority.

Where the authority considers that a criminal offence may have been committed, the matter is reported to the director of public prosecutions for her ruling. Otherwise, it is reported to the commissioner of police with the authority’s recommendation. The authority notifies the complainant by letter of the action taken.

If your complaint does not fall within the authority’s jurisdiction, the authority will forward it to the appropriate agency and will notify you of the referral.

What are the possible actions that the authority may take?

The authority may decide that the complaint is:

Substantiated: The subject officer has committed the alleged act of misconduct.

Unsubstantiated: There was insufficient evidence to substantiate the complaint.

Unfounded: The subject officer did not commit an act of misconduct. The incident did occur, but the officer’s actions were lawful.

How long does it take before a complaint is resolved?

The authority strives to resolve all complaints in a timely manner. The exact time depends on the complexity of the investigation and the cooperation of the parties. On average, the investigation of a complaint is completed within three months.

Is there any other way to resolve the complaint?

Where the parties voluntarily agree, a complaint which, if proven, would not attract sanctions may be resolved informally. In this case the assistance of a neutral party assigned by the authority is utilised.

How and where may a complaint be lodged to the authority?

How: In person or by mail.
Where: Ground and first floors
45-47 Barbados Avenue, Kingston 5, Jamaica.
Tel: 968-8875, 968-1932
Fax: 960-4767
Toll free: 1-888-FOR-HELP (367-4357)

Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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