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RETHINKING POLICE COMPLAINTS

Graham Smith
The British Journal of Criminology
Vol. 44, No. 1 (JANUARY 2004), pp. 15-33
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23639019
Page Count: 19
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RETHINKING POLICE COMPLAINTS
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Abstract

Procedures for dealing with complaints against the police have been at the centre of police reform for the last half-century. This paper departs from the traditional 'who investigates' approach and managerial orthodoxy to consider the primary functions of the complaints process. Four causes of complaint are identified—unprofessional behaviour, criminal conduct, tortious action and unacceptable policy—and four functions are considered—managerial, liability, restorative and accountability. It is concluded that in order to effectively and efficiently deal with the various causes of complaint, a two-tier system is required to deal with complaints that allege unprofessional behaviour and criminal conduct, and a third, separate tier, is necessary to consider complaints regarding unacceptable police policy.

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