PCA NZ Crown

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make a complaint?

You can make a complaint in writing to the Authority direct. You are welcome to handwrite or type a letter of complaint. You can use a form (click here if you would prefer to use the form) but that is not essential. Post your letter of complaint (or the form) to:

Independent Police Conduct Authority (or IPCA) , PO Box 5025, WELLINGTON.

If you require assistance you are welcome to speak to one of our staff (0800 503728) or read the following sections. You may get another person to help write out your complaint.

It is preferable that you write the complaint to enable it to be conveyed in your own words but you may get assistance. Children or young persons may have their complaints dealt with by their parents or guardians writing to the Authority.

What information do I need to supply?

Be clear what it is you are complaining about and the specific details. What. When. Where. Who. This may ensure that any investigation is the most effective.

Include your name, address, and phone number.

Give enough details about the event or incident. In most cases this can be written on one or two pages. Provide the dates, the time of the incident, where it took place, whether you are facing charges or have faced charges arising out of the incident and the outcome of any Court hearing/s in relation to those charges. Have you relevant material to provide, for example, a doctor's report, ACC form, photos etc?

Include the officers' names and/or collar numbers if you know them, and a description.

Include the names and contact details of any other person who may need to be contacted (your witnesses).

Will my complaint be dealt with confidentially?

The Police Complaints Authority Act requires the Authority and its staff to maintain secrecy in respect of matters relating to complaints.

The Authority is required by law to notify the Police of a complaint, and the Police are  required to notify the Authority of a complaint received by them.

What if I do not know the names or the collar numbers of the officer/s?

Generally it is not essential that you know the name/s or badge number/s of the officers before you make a complaint. The Authority, through its enquiries, can usually establish the identity of the officer/s.

Do I have to put my complaint in writing?


Do you have a form to fill in, and how do I get one?

Yes. You can download the form from here.

Is there a time limit for making a complaint?

The Authority may decline to investigate if the complaint, incident or event is more than 12 months old. It is also best to make complaints promptly so that evidence can be gathered or secured, and witnesses may better recall the details.

Would it be best if I got a lawyer to lodge a complaint on my behalf?

Complaints are treated equally whether or not you have a lawyer represent you for your complaint.

Can I make a complaint anonymously?


Can I help someone make a complaint?

Yes, provided the other person agrees.

Can I make a complaint against a civilian employee of the Police?


Who will contact me after I send in my complaint?

The Authority will write to you when your complaint has been received.

Why are the Police involved in the investigation?

The Police will always be involved to some extent, either in receiving the complaint, or answering the allegation/s, or investigating the complaint. Some complaints are satisfactorily dealt with in the Police District by their investigators and require little involvement from the IPCA.

What if I do not want a particular officer to investigate my complaint?

You will need to promptly raise that, and your reasons, with the Authority or the District Commander of Police. Investigators must not investigate matters in which they have personal involvement and all investigators are required to be objective and independent.

How long will it take to investigate my complaint?

The length of time depends on the type of investigation and the resources available within the IPCA and/or Police. Some complaints take only a matter of weeks to resolve whilst others may take much longer, particularly where Court hearings are involved and the IPCA is waiting for the outcome.

Can the officer/s be charged as a result of my complaint?

Yes. Both in the criminal Court and in a disciplinary hearing.

Can there be anything to fear from making a complaint?

If you have not purposely misled or lied in a complaint you have nothing to fear. It is an offence to knowingly make a false statement. If you think you are being unfairly treated as a result of a complaint, you should write and tell the Authority immediately.

What will happen once the investigator completes their report?

You will be advised of the investigator's conclusions. The file will then be reviewed by the Professional Standards section of the Office of the Commissioner of Police before coming to the Authority for independent review.

What if I disagree with the outcome?

If the matter was investigated under the District Complaint Resolution process, you will have been told at the outset that, should you disagree with the findings, you may write to the Authority to request an independent review by it. In other cases you may write to the Authority if you disagree with the findings.

Can I be compensated if my complaint is upheld?

The IPCA does not have the power to award compensation or damages against Police and so any claim must be pursued with the Police direct; you may find it helpful to have the help of a lawyer for this.


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