As part of the commitment to expand its operations across the country, the Independent Police Complaints Board (IPCB) on Tuesday, 16th June 2020 officially opened its office for the North-West Region at 45 Edward Koroma Street in Port Loko City.
Chairing the occasion, the Chairman of Board, Mr. Richard Shealton Freeman expressed gratitude to the stakeholders for answering to the call of the IPCB amidst COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the official opening ceremony should have been hosted at the Court Barray to attract more attendees from the public if the country was Covid Free.
Mr. Freeman called on everyone to support the IPCB in its work “as policing the police is a very difficult task”. To ensure that IPCB succeeds in its constitutional mandate, he emphasised that the IPCB presence must be felt in every part of the country. And for this reason his institution has extended its operations in North-West so as to give access to people in karene, kambia and Port Loko Districts to seek redress on police excesses.
He however warned against frivolous complaints against the police as the Board will levy fines against defaulters.
The IPCB Chairman thanked the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for fully equipping the new office.
The Regional Police Commander for the North-West, AIG Tarawallie said he was very pleased with the extension of the IPCB in the North-West.
He reiterated that the IPCB was established to compliment the work of the Sierra Leone Police by guiding their operations and promoting accountability. He assured the leadership of the IPCB that his office is open to IPCB.
Representing the Paramount of Bakeh Lokoh Chiefdom, the Chiefdom Speaker, Mr Malapy M. A. Tarawalli on behalf of his people welcomed the IPCB team and everybody in attendance. He said that the presence of the IPCB in Port Loko was a dream of the people in the chiefdom because of incidences of police excesses. He assured that the IPCB will get maximum cooperation from the chiefdom stakeholders and the district at large.
Making the Keynotes Address on behalf of the Hon. Resident Minister of the Region, the Provincial Secretary, Mr Bai Thuray said “building civilian oversight mechanisms and promoting accountability within the SLP are critical for modern day policing”. He stressed that the IPCB acts as a civilian oversight and investigations body with a national scope and responsibility, operating as an independent entity and at arm’s length from both the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) and elected officials.
The Provincial Secretary recalled that the IPCB from its inception in June 2014, made it known to the Executive Management Board of the Police that its approach to delivering on its Mandate will be non-confrontational, with the IPCB taking on the challenging role of ‘bridge builder’; building a relationship of trust and confidence between members of the SLP and communities which was a prerequisite for effective policing and community safety.
The Complaints Board, according to him will receive and examine all complaints that fall within its mandate; it shall ensure that citizens have access to a prompt and transparent process for handling and investigating complaints.
Due to the on-going war against Covid 19, the IPCB only accommodated 22 people, inclusive guests and staff.