Earlier this year Andrew Faull, a Centre for Criminology DPhil student, was commissioned by the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) to research and write two reports for South Africa’s Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). The first of these has now been reworked and published as an APCOF Policy Paper titled, Monitoring the Performance of Police Oversight Agencies.

The IPID is a government department tasked with ensuring independent oversight of South Africa’s various police bodies, particularly with regards to investigating a range of mostly criminal offences if alleged to have been committed by police officers.  In early 2012 the IPID began a major transformation from its former incarnation, the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), to the current Directorate. Part of this transformation has included an examination of the ways in which it  monitors and evaluates the performance of its employees, particularly its investigators. An earlier version of Andrew’s APCOF paper, tailored to the IPID, sought to help the Directorate reflect on approaches to performance monitoring employed in similar oversight agencies in Canada, the United States, Australia, Northern Ireland, England and Wales.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the paper shows that most oversight agencies consider their key performance indicators to be only those relating to:

- The number of complaints received and finalised annually

- The time taken to finalise complaints

- The outcome of complaints

However, in addition to these, the paper shows that oversight agencies collect and engage with a wide range of data in often very different ways.

The report makes special mention of qualitative indicators when these are employed. No agencies reviewed consistently tracked qualitative indicators in every investigation. Rather, where qualitative engagement was employed, this related predominantly to survey and case study research, the latter involving select samples of investigations.

APCOF is a network of African policing practitioners from state and non-state institutions. It promotes democratic policing through strengthening civilian oversight over the police in Africa. APCOF undertakes research, provides technical support to state and non-state actors including civil society organisations, the police and new and emerging oversight bodies in Africa. This paper will be of value to all with an interest in promoting effective civilian police oversight in any context.