Thursday, February 11, 2016

Another starving watchdog

What is it with National and starving watchdogs? First, they under-funded the Ombudsman, meaning a huge increase in the amount of time it took for OIA complaints to be resolved. And now they're underfunding the Independent Police Conduct Authority, with predictable results:

Allegations of excessive force by police are going uninvestigated by the country's independent watchdog, due to financial pressures on the organisation.


The authority had been forced to abandon plans in some areas, such as assessing the standard of detention facilities and shifting its focus from "just blaming" to prevention.

While the IPCA could cut costs by reducing its investigations, Carruthers said that was not a desirable solution.

"We'll never be short of money because we can always decline to investigate independently, as we think fit ... but there comes a time when we then don't feel comfortable about actually doing the job that we're there for."

Speaking after the meeting, IPCA operations group manager Warren Young confirmed the authority had already passed up independently investigating some cases, instead referring them back to police to check themselves, because it was "beyond our resource".

"There have been occasionally matters that we've referred back to the police where if we'd had the resource, we might have investigated, including, for example, excessive force cases."

Which means the police are investigating their own (and of course finding nothing) - exactly the problem the IPCA was set up to solve in the first place. Either they need to be funded to do the job properly, or we should end this charade of independent oversight.

OTOH, given that the police simply ignore repeated IPCA recommendations, you really have to wonder if there's any point to their existence.