New police complaints directorate to be more focused

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cape Town - The new Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), which this month replaces the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), will focus more on tackling corruption and human rights abuses by police than its predecessor, Ipid's executive director Francois Beukman said on Friday.

The Ipid is backed by a bigger budget, will recruit more investigators and open more offices and put in place improved case management and performance management tools.

Beukman said the ICD's shortcoming was that it had "tried to be a jack of all trades" on a limited budget, which often meant that the unit could not focus enough on human rights and police corruption.

But he pointed out that the Ipid would focus more on these two important areas.

Ahead of a presentation of Ipid's five-year strategic plan to the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Police on Monday, Beukman outlined the unit's focus over the next three years.

He said the Ipid would focus on becoming more accessible to the public, would put in place a performance management system developed under regulations of the Ipid Act and put in place a new case management system.

Added to this, the department will also begin providing investigation advisory services and legal and litigation support, following the setting up of a legal services programme within the department.

A corporate governance unit that would focus on monitoring and evaluation of performance had also be set up this month.

Beukman said this would ensure that the quality of the investigative products are measured properly and assessed on an ongoing basis.

In increasing its accessibility to the public, the directorate would run various community awareness programmes and media campaigns and set up nine more satellite offices.

In addition to the department's current seven offices, three new ones will be set up in the 2013/14 financial year - in Ladysmith, Port Elizabeth and KwaMhlanga. A further six offices will be set up in the 2014/15 financial year in Worcester, Vereeniging, Klerksdorp, Kroonstad, Bela Bela and Springbok.

The additional R36 million allocated to Ipid for the next financial year - bringing the total budget to R196 million - would help the department to employ more investigators, he said.

The directorate currently has 139 investigators.

Investigators will also undergo training in areas such as DNA analysis, investigation of sexual offences and torture, forensic and ballistic evidence collection among others.

The appointment of two women - to the positions of chief director for corporate services and a chief director of legal services - means that three of the five executive managers in the department are women.

The Ipid Act strengthens the oversight of the police actions by stipulating that the national commissioner has to move on the Ipid's findings by initiating disciplinary proceedings and must report regularly on the progress on matters referred to police management.

Under the new Act, police must also report to the Ipid any matter falling under the scope of investigation of the directorate.

Beukman believed the shortage of complaints from the public over corruption was probably because many of those in the public that were best placed to report incidences of police bribes were involved in the facilitating or accepting of bribes themselves.