IPCC findings 'nothing but police press briefings'

Local | Cindy Wan 13 Dec 2019

Cindy Wan

The interim report of the police watchdog over the handling of protests will be nothing but a written version of the force's regular press briefings, a former member said yesterday.

Cheng Shing-lung's dismissal of the Independent Police Complaints Council's upcoming report came a day after the council's overseas expert panel quit.

Cheng said the experts' quitting was hardly surprising because they do not want to endorse a "satisfactory report" to protect their reputation.

"[If the IPCC] attempted to put satisfactory words in their mouths, of course the overseas experts would not endorse it," Cheng said.

Without sufficient investigatory powers, the IPCC would rely on scrutinizing documents submitted by the police and are likely to come up with a report detailing the incidents based on the police perspectives, he said.

"The daily police press conferences at 4pm explained the incidents in separate phrases. I guess the IPCC will sum them up in paragraphs in the report," he said.

Cheng said he believes the IPCC has enough statutory powers to handle daily complaints, but not major incidents. The overseas experts could have found their work restrained when they wanted to ask questions or summon witnesses.

He also described the situation as "auditors collectively stepping aside before a listed company announces its financial results."

He said the experts' withdrawal would undermine the credibility of the interim report.

"They were hired in the first place because the IPCC wanted to increase its credibility," he said.

He said the IPCC needs independent investigatory powers when probing large protests, adding that the UK's Independent Office for Police Conduct had similar rights in the event of major incidents.

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