Who can lodge a complaint?
Any person can lodge a complaint with the IPCB about a matter involving the Sierra Leone Police which affects them. If you think you have been treated badly or improperly by a police officer you have the right to lodge a complaint. The IPCB can investigate any matter involving police misconduct or abuse, and particularly:
- The death of a person in police custody.
- A fatal road accident that involves a police vehicle.
- A shooting incident involving the use by a police officer of a fire arm or the death of a person as a result of a police shooting.
- Injuries, assault or wounding caused by a police officer.
- Misconduct by a police officer of the rank of Superintendent or higher, or misconduct that has been referred to the IPCB by the Inspector-General of Police.
- Any incident where police action or inaction is likely to have a significant impact on the community’s confidence in the police.
How can I lodge a complaint?
- A complaint can be lodged with the IPCB in writing, in person or over the telephone.
- A complaint can be lodged by anyone who is acting on your behalf and who been has given written permission by to lodge the complaint.
- A juvenile (under the age of 17 years) will be required to lodge a complaint through an adult.
What should I include in my complaint?
Complaint forms are available from the IPCB. You will be required to provide:
- Your name, age, gender, nationality and contact details.
- A summary of your complaint (e.g, “I was arrested for no reason”; “The police hit me while I was in custody”).
- The effect that the police’s actions have had on you.
- The name of the police officer/s against whom you are lodging a complaint.
- Where the incident occured (e.g. the name of the police station or the address if it happened somewhere else).
- The date and time that the incident occurred.
- The names and contact details of any other persons who were there when the incident happened (or who you told after it happened).
- Any medical reports or photographs of injuries.
- If you want to lodge a complaint in writing but need help please contact the IPCB for assistance in writing it down.
Is it safe to lodge a complaint?
All complaints received by the IPCB are treated as confidential. IPCB can conduct public hearings so that the public knows how the system works and trusts the process. However, the IPCB can hold hearings in private if it is necessary to protect witnesses.
If your complaint falls outside the mandate of the IPCB, it can refer your complaint to the appropriate body or department for further action. If this happens you will be informed in writing.
The IPCB may decide not to investigate your complaint
If the IPCB decides not to investigate your complaint, you will be informed in writing, and reasons will be supplied. Advice on alternative remedies will be made available.
The IPCB may also decide not to investigate your complaint if it is Trivial, Frivolous or Vextacious
- Trivial of Frivolous complaints are those made without basis or merit or made in bad faith and without sufficient grounds.
- A Vexatious complaint is one that has been made repeatedly or that is meant to cause a police officer, a group of police officers or the SLP as a whole damage or embarrassment.
- Once the IPCB has determined that your complaint is trival, frivolous or vexatious it will bring to an end the process and a notice to that effect forwarded to you the complainant.
What can I expect after I have lodged a complaint?
When you lodge a complaint with the IPCB, it will go through the information you have provided, check the evidence held by the police (for example, transcripts, charge records, etc.) and will speak to you.
When you lodge you complaint, the IPCB will explain the complaint procedure to you. You will be provided with a unique reference number for your complaint. Please keep that number safe and use it every time you speak to the IPCB about your complaint.
The IPCB will assess your complaint and will decide whether it can investigate your compliant. This will usually happen within 14 days of lodging your complaint.
IF THE IPCB DECIDES TO INVESTIGATE YOUR COMPLAINT, it will be assigned to an IPCB Investigator. The Investigator will take statements, collect evidence and look for any other information to help him or her make a decision about your complaint.
The decision will be based on the facts and evidence available. Once the IPCB Investigator has finised his or her investigation you will be notified in writing.
The IPCB can recommend disciplinary action against the police officer, refer the complaint to the DPP for criminal prosecution or decide to take other steps to resolve the matter.
What evidence/documents should you keep?
The more information you can provide to the IPCB, the easier it will be for the IPCB to investigate.
- Record everything that happened as soon as you can either by writing it down or telling someone who can write it down for you. This includes geeting the names of the police officer involved, where you were, when the mistreatment occurred, and the time and date, and the name of any other person or persons who were there when it happened.
- If you have been hurt by the police, see a doctor as soon as possible. Take photographs of your injuries, keep all doctor’s reports and photographs of your injuries.