President Koroma said, over the period, the civilian oversight mechanism had engaged on a number of issues which have “really contributed to the peace and quiet of the country” and urged them to continue in that direction.
The President commended the IPCB’s effort in preparing the report, which it has committed itself to present to Parliament even though the civilian oversight mechanism for the police is “not required to do so” by law.
“The fact that you have opted to present your report in Parliament clearly indicates the kind of commitment and effort you have put into building the Police Complaints Board” he maintained.
Commenting on IPCB’s upcoming youth engagement programme, the President said the engagement was very important to government. He pointed out that “our youths are our future” and urged that every effort and energy be put into engaging them to get them to refocus on issues that will guarantee our future, make them responsible citizens tomorrow and position them to help themselves and the communities they are serving.
On IPCB’s effort to serve as a ‘Bridge Builder’ between the Police and the Community, President Koroma said “You are building bridges between the Police and other members of the society. And that is really what it is. All of it is for us to enhance our security sector, engender confidence and trust in the process so that at the end of the day they will continue to provide the services expected of them and enhance their professionalism which will only help develop our country”.
President Koroma assured the IPCB of government’s continued support to deliver on its mandate.
Presenting the Annual Report, Chairman of IPCB Valentine Collier informed the President that since its formal launch on 20th October 2015, the IPCB has been assiduously working to deliver on its mandate through the use of a multi-pronged approach, including capacity building, public awareness raising and sensitization, complaints handling and investigation.
He recalled that on 3rd June, 2015, a ‘Progress Report on the Operationalization of the IPCB’ was presented to the President which provided a benchmark for measuring and monitoring future endeavours of the institution.
Mr. Collier said the institution upon its inception in 2015 had committed itself to report to Parliament even though it was not mandatory for the institution to do so, adding that the report will also be presented to the legislative body.
This report, according to the Chairman, will serve as a ‘working document’ to be used in interactions with its partners and associates to move the process forward.
Mr. Collier said the IPCB had already clearly made it clear to the Executive Management Board of the police that the IPCB was created to serve as a bridge between the police and the community thereby strengthening a relationship built on trust and confidence between the two.
He said the IPCB in 2016 had embarked on a nationwide Focus Group Engagements (FGEs) which aimed at sensitizing and raising awareness regarding the functions and role of the IPCB.
The Chairman told the President that the Board’s next programme will focus on youth engagement. “We have to talk to our young people not only to talk down to them but also to get conversation going. We have to listen to them and see how we can map the way forward” he stressed.
Speaking on key milestones of the IPCB, he said the IPCB is safely housed in a newly renovated government owned office building at New England Ville by the UNDP, in Freetown, delivered in collaboration with the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) a capacity building training course on investigation skills for civilian oversight of the police, developing a Strategic Plan for the implementation of the Luanda Guidelines on the condition of arrest, police custody and pre-trial detention in Sierra Leone (2017-2022) for the benefit of its relevant partners and stakeholders across the country. He added that the IPCB is putting modalities in place for the establishment and operationalization of its Regional offices in Bo, Kenema and Makeni so as to increase access to the institution by the public.
However, Mr. Collier said the agency was faced with some challenges including low staffing level coupled with paucity of funds to meet with operational costs, lapses and flaws within its mandate, lack of mobility to facilitate the activities of the Board among others.
The Chairman thanked government, its development partners, Board members and management staff for the supports provided to the institution.
The IPCB also presented to the President a plaque bearing the name and logo of the institution