By Peter Stevenson
THE number of complaints received by the Independent Authority for the Investigation of Allegations and Complaints against the Police rose by almost ten per cent between 2011 and last year, head of the authority Andreas Spyridakis said yesterday.
Last a year a total of 145 complaints were made compared to 132 the previous year.
“The rise in complaints proves that the authority is firmly established as a trustworthy tool which the public can refer to when making complaints about the illegal behaviour of police officers,” he said.
Spyridakis was speaking following a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades, who was presented with the committee’s annual reports for 2011 and 2012.
Of the 132 complaints made in 2011, criminal investigators were assigned to 51 cases, 35 of which were ultimately rejected. In three cases a criminal act was deemed to have been committed but only one was considered by the Attorney-general to be worthy of a criminal case.
The complaint was made by a member of public who was arrested after the football match between Anagennisis Dherynia and Omonia in October of 2011 where he accused an officer of actual bodily harm.
In 2012, of the 145 complaints, 58 criminal investigators were assigned and 35 cases dismissed. Five of those cases were deemed to be crimes by the committee but only three of them were approved for action by the Attorney-general.
The first of those complaints was made by a member of public who had been arrested for being drunk and disorderly in Larnaca who accused a police officer of using excessive force and causing actual bodily harm.
The second was made against a police officer from Nicosia for failing to do his job properly following a road traffic accident. The third was made by two Romanians in Paphos for racism and the use of excessive force during a search of their apartment.
“During our six years of operation, the committee has made a number of suggestions to change the way it is run in order to make it more productive. Some of the changes have been implemented but in order for the committee to run even more smoothly, we have made some new proposals to the president,” Spyridakis said.
The first proposal is that the committee is given the authority to investigate complaints made against people who may not be police officers but may have interfered in a police investigation.
Their second proposal would be to appoint permanent investigators who would have the relevant qualifications and training.
The third proposal is to enhance the overall technical infrastructure in order to enable the committee to conduct investigations without depending on the police.
“The creation and operation of an independent committee has been welcomed by many independent bodies like the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee and the European Court of Human Rights,” he said.
Spyridakis said that the committee hoped for the support of parliament to implement the recommendations and proposals which were made in order to overcome the problems and difficulties with which it is faced.