The Federation Press

Complaints Against Police

The politics of reform


Who guards the guardians? How do liberal democracies ensure that citizens who have been granted authority to legitimately deprive other citizens of their freedom - the police - are held accountable to society for the way in which they exercise their powers?

This is a clear account of reform in complaints against police. It is also about public policy and political relationships. It analyses how relations between police, government and civilian oversight bodies can affect the success of police accountability policies.

The book looks at models in Australia, Britain, the USA and Canada, identifying shared difficulties which cross city, county, state, provincial and national boundaries. The analysis of two case studies from the Australian state of Queensland outline why the first attempt at civilian oversight was an abject failure, and the conditions which led to the creation of the second - a unique and powerful external, independent civilian oversight body.

Lewis shows how external relations must be examined in evaluating the success or failure of the civilian oversight process, and presents a new model extending beyond the traditional reactive approach.

Table of Contents


Policing in liberal democracies

The problem: unacceptable police behaviour

Reaction to the problem: governments and police

Models of complaints systems: the need to move on

Government intent and support

The Police Complaints Tribunal: Queensland

Creating the conditions

The Criminal Justice Commission

The CJC and the political system



Of interest...