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Accountability

Investigators need to be held accountable for their investigations, including processes undertaken and results delivered. Accordingly, investigations need to be able to withstand scrutiny from both internal and external agencies. A variety of such forms of scrutiny have been mentioned above, including audits. An important dimension of accountability, indeed a presupposition of accountability, is transparency. Procedures need to be in place to ensure that investigative processes are transparent, not only to internal and external oversight agencies, but also to victims, witnesses, and suspects. Obviously, the nature and level of transparency needs to be consistent with security and confidentiality requirements. A further point here is that the decisions and recommendations made by the investigator need to be justified in terms of reasons, and these reasons need to be adequately documented.

Accountability needs to operate at two levels, at least: (i) there is the accountability of the investigator in relation to a particular investigation considered in itself; and (ii) there is the accountability of the investigator in relation to his or her investigative performance over a period of time. The latter is susceptible to performance indicators not necessarily applicable to the former. For example, subject to audit should be the number and ratio of complaints investigations in which the investigator’s recommendation is that the complaint in question is sustained.

 
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