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CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT OF POLICE A Test of Capture Theory

CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT OF POLICE A Test of Capture Theory,TIM PRENZLER

CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT OF POLICE A Test of Capture Theory   (Citations: 12)
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Many jurisdictions have created external oversight bodies for police following problems of recurring misconduct and the failure of internal control mechanisms. Questions inevitably follow about the effectiveness of the new bodies to detect and prevent abuses of power. One potential source of ineffectiveness is undue influence or 'capture' by police. This paper reviews developments in external oversight internationally and examines the issue of capture in detail using an Australian case study of the Queensland Police Service and the Queensland Criminal Justice Commission (CJC). The question of capture was assessed by analysing reports on significant issues involving the CJC and police. Cases of zealous enforcement of rules were apparent, but the study identified a generally weak approach on the part of the Commission to enforcement and direction. Crucial elements of the CJC's structure and functions have exposed it to capture; including a role in facilitating police management, joint operations against organized crime, and reliance on seconded police investigators. The available evidence did not confirm a case of direct capture, but there was evidence from audits of investigations that police involvement in investigations and discipline contributed to a marked attrition of complaints. Weakness in oversight could also be related to the combined effects of an appeasement strategy, an overly legalistic organizational culture, and inadequate quality control. Practical measures are recommended to improve accountability that have general application to police oversight bodies. These include a clearer separation between police and the regulator, quality assessment measures, and exclusion of a facilitation role to allow the regulator to focus on police conduct.
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    • ...23; Black, 1998; Makkai & Braithwaite, 1992; Prenzler, 2000; Schneiberg & Bartley, 2001)...

    Steven R. Wood. An exploratory study of staff capture at the South African Inspectorat...

    • ...The powers and functions of these oversight agencies often vary significantly, but two basic models have been identified: (1) a ‘minimal review model’ where agencies audit police complaints investigations, recommend changes to procedures or disciplinary decisions and respond to appeals from dissatisfied complainants; and (2) a ‘civilian control model’ where agencies conduct independent investigations, deploy a variety of advanced investigative tools (including compulsory hearings and covert surveillance), have a role in disciplinary decisions and prosecutions and evaluate police internal corruption prevention strategies (Prenzler 2000, Seneviratne 2004)...

    Tim Prenzler. The evolution of police oversight in Australia

    • ...From a theoretical perspective, greater external control is supported by the concepts of “relational distance” in law enforcement commitment (Black, 1980; Grabosky & Braithwaite, 1986) and of “regulatory capture” — when regulated organisations obtain undue influence over the regulator (Prenzler, 2000)...
    • ...In the Queensland case, the use of seconded police in the Fitzgerald Inquiry was transferred to the new Criminal Justice Commission, which has a small number of civilian investigators but is essentially reliant on police (Prenzler, 2000)...
    • ...The opinion surveys also show citizens are concerned about police “capturing” the regulating agency (Prenzler, 2000)...

    Tim Prenzler. Stakeholder Perspectives on Police Complaints and Discipline: Towards ...

    • ...Capture theory, which ‘explains poor performance in regulation with reference to techniques by which the groups being regulated subverts the impartiality and zealousness of the regulatory body’ would account for the overall inertia of the institution in this area (Prenzler 2000)...

    Fiona Macaulay. PROBLEMS OF POLICE OVERSIGHT IN BRAZIL

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