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How to Complain to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA)

This article looks at how to complain to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority. It also looks at and how IPOA investigates the complaints. These provisions are under Section 24 of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority Act.

The Authority considers complaints alleging:

  • misconduct or neglect of duty by the Police, or
  • about Police practices, policies, and procedures affecting the complainant.

The Authority also considers incidents of death and serious injury caused by Police action. The Police must inform IPOA about these incidents. The Authority can also investigate on its own motion.

See also: The Functions of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority

For any person wondering how to complain to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, they may do so orally or in writing. They can also do it in any other appropriate format that the regulations may prescribe.

Where a person makes a complaint orally, the employee of the authority that the person lodges the complaint should write down the complaint. The employee should provide all reasonable assistance to the complainant to ensure proper investigation of the complaint.

The complaint made above should contain particulars that IPOA may prescribe from time to time.

How to complain to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority

You can complain to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) online, in writing, by email or telephone.

To make a complaint online, you can use the online complaints form. You can also download a complaints form to fill out and send in.

Other ways on How to Complain to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) include:

  • Phoning IPOA’s Complaints Management Team on +254 792 532 626/627; +254 773 999 000; +254 772 333 000; +254 780 490 600/601 to make an oral complaint,
  • Sending an email to complaints@ipoa.go.ke,
  • Writing a letter to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority: P.O Box 23035-00100, Nairobi, Kenya,
  • Visiting a police station to make a complaint (it may be worth trying to resolve your complaint directly with the Police, but you still can make a complaint to IPOA),
  • Making a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Information to include in your Complaint

When you make a complaint, you will need to provide:

  • your name and contact details,
  • details of the incident you want to complain of, including when it happened, what happened, and who was involved.

It is also helpful to provide:

  • the name or any other identifying details of the officer you want to complain about and any other relevant person (such as witnesses),
  • any relevant evidence such as photographs or doctors’ reports.

What IPOA should do after receiving a complaint

Upon receiving a complaint, IPOA should:

  • call for information or reports regarding the complaint from the appropriate Government department or agency or any other body within a specified period; or
  • without prejudice to the point above, initiate such inquiry as it may consider necessary, having regard to the nature of the complaint and considering the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individuals concerned, including members of the Police, contemplated in Chapter Four of the Constitution.

If a member of the Service faces criminal proceedings due to a matter under the investigation of IPOA, the Authority (IPOA) may suspend its investigation until those proceedings conclude. Thereafter, it may continue its investigation or in appropriate cases, decide to discontinue.

See Also: What the Law Says about the Use of Firearms by Kenyan Police

In case the police conduct and conclude an internal investigation or internal disciplinary proceedings, IPOA may in appropriate cases and in its sole discretion decide to abide by the outcome of such an investigation or proceedings. More so, it may decide to adopt the findings and recommendations of that investigation or those proceedings as its own and conclude its own investigation.

What IPOA should consider during an investigation

IPOA should consider the following during an investigation:

  • circumstances which, if present during the incident under investigation, impede the effectiveness of policing; and
  • unlawful action, if any, taken by the complainant, the victim or any other person present during the incident under investigation.

If the authority considers a complaint to be vexatious or frivolous, it may refuse to investigate.

If IPOA receives new evidence, it may reopen any investigation it concluded. I addition, it may amend or withdraw any previous findings and recommendations.

Nothing in Section 24 of IPOA Act should prevent an individual Police officer from lodging a complaint. However, the Authority may, at its discretion, refer any complaint back to the Internal Affairs Unit of the Service for redress.

No member of the Police should face disciplinary hearings or other disadvantage based solely on the fact that they have lodged a complaint with or given evidence or information to IPOA.

Any person who subjects a Police officer to a disciplinary hearing or other disadvantage based solely on the fact that they have lodged a complaint with or given evidence before or information to the Authority commits an offence.

Nothing in the IPOA act should prevent any person or body from lodging a complaint in terms of Section 24, or the Authority from investigating, even if the target, victim, or witness of the action does not agree to or approve of such an investigation by the Authority.

Protection of complainant and witness

Any law providing for the unlawfulness of the following shall apply with the necessary modifications to IPOA—

  • the intimidation, harassment or interference with witnesses or potential witnesses to any matter under investigation by the Authority; or
  • concealment, destruction, tampering with or removal of evidence relevant to any matter under investigation by the Authority.

Notwithstanding any other written law, any document or statement drafted or made or taken during an investigation should remain confidential until the Authority in writing determines otherwise.

The Authority should upon request from a complainant keep the complaint’s identity confidential unless it is demonstrably in the interest of justice not to do so until it concludes the investigation.

However, this is provided that the Authority may in exceptional cases determine that the identity of a complainant may not be published even after the conclusion of an investigation or may be published only on terms determined by the Authority.

For more about how to complain to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, visit their website at ipoa.go.ke.

George Githinji
George Githinji
Githinji is passionate about devolved governance and public finance. He also comments on topical issues in Kenyan politics and society. In addition, he manages the @UgatuziKenya platform.

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