Towards an accountable government : grievance channel for complaints against police

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Towards an accountable government : grievance channel for complaints against police

 

Author: Kung, Wai-kwok Victor
Title: Towards an accountable government : grievance channel for complaints against police
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 1995
Subject: Royal Hong Kong Police
Police -- Complaints against -- China -- Hong Kong
Police -- China -- Hong Kong -- Discipline
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Multi-disciplinary Studies
Pages: vi, 174 leaves ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1202774
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/3105
Abstract: With the recent development of democracy, improvement of education standard, introduction of Bill of Rights, the emergence of partisan politics and the client-centered culture promoted among public agencies, the Hong Kong Government is growing towards and demanded to be more accountable. Unlike most western countries, Hong Kong does not presently have a fully democratic political system to hold the RHKP accountable and probably will not have in the future. An alternative way to enhance police accountability is the provision of an effective grievance channel. Vigorous cries for independent CAPO broke out in 1993. Many suggested that the present complaints system is ineffective and bound to be partial when members of police are employed to investigate their own fellow colleagues. The major arguments behind the proposal are that an independent CAPO would secure higher legitimacy, be more effective and impartial. Findings of this research indicate that the RHKP is generally perceived as an efficient and popular public agency. People in Hong Kong tend to appreciate that the Police can hardly be client-centered in view of the role conflicts, but expect such a culture be developed in the police complaints system. Police accountability in Hong Kong is relatively weak in the eyes of the public. While the public value police accountability more than efficiency, they are not ready to pursue the former at the expense of the latter. An evaluation of the functions of CAPO suggests that the CAPO has secured public trust on its procedural justice and is reasonably fair though it seems necessary to introduce additional measures if constantly high levels of fairness are to be pursued. On the other hand, the level of accountability relationships between CAPO and PCC, a non-police oversight body, stands somewhere beyond sporadic accountability despite falling much behind strong accountability. Research on western models suggests that fully independent complaints systems are not common. Only two out of 23 selected jurisdictions have complaints against police investigated by non-police officers and the complaints systems were entirely independent of the police force. Complaint mechanisms in the other 21 jurisdictions are combinations of police internal mechanisms and external overseeing bodies. Experience in these countries suggests that even fully independent investigators make little difference in substantiation rate, mainly because they face similar evidential problems. The available evidence casts much doubt on the chance of success of an independent model. An independent CAPO, if adopted in Hong Kong, is not much more than symbolic and the justice may be seen but not be done. An independent complaints system is not essential nor desirable. The gist of the crucial problem with the existing arrangement in Hong Kong is the irreconcilable perceptions of police deviance between the public and the police. The perceptual difference over 'the mark' or 'the boundary' can be conciliated through an 'interpolable balance' model. This model maintains the status quo with the PCC escalating to a supervisory role from its present monitoring role. This improvement would enhance political accountability without any loss in professional accountability.

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