Edited by Monica den Boer
Chapter 22: Police oversight and accountability in a comparative perspective
Police accountability implies that police activity is open to scrutiny by a variety of oversight institutions. The powers of democratically embedded police forces are checked and controlled by the public through designated processes. Procedural justice is regarded as one of the most important building blocks in guaranteeing police legitimacy. Police organizations tend to be overseen by a mixture of oversight mechanisms, which may include an independent police oversight authority with a formal mandate to investigate complaints against the police, making its findings public on a regular basis. This chapter adopts an internationally comparative perspective and observes that despite some levels of standardization and convergence between oversight models, sovereignty and tradition remain dominant factors in the architecture of police oversight mechanisms. Historical, cultural and national police structures demand a tailor-made approach when states are in transition. Oversight should apply to transnational policing agencies and structures, such as Interpol, Europol as well as international law enforcement databases.
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