This paper presents a new framework for better understanding the mechanics of police oversight reforms. It outlines a case study of New Zealand police oversight organisation reform and a comparative analysis with four other jurisdictions: England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and New York. Together these cases allow us to trace the path of police watchdog reform and demonstrate that it is not simply a series of cycles, or preordained set of management challenges. Instead it is a more complex, staggered process of reactive and proactive reform that includes reform cycles, watchdog-initiated growth, justice sector reform and the ripple effect. The paper draws upon and extends two theoretical approaches - Organisational Life Cycle theory [1, 2] and Police Complaints Reform Cycle frameworks  - to develop this new model of police oversight organisation reform mechanisms. Further, the paper proposes that deficits in watchdog transparency impede accountability, in turn stifling the public awareness needed for reform mechanisms to function and stunting the growth of an oversight organisation’s funding and powers.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Greiner, L. (1972). Evolution and revolution as organizations grow. Harvard Business Review, 50(4), 37.
Greiner, L. (1997). Evolution and revolution as Organizations grow: A company's past has clues for management that are critical to future success. Family Business Review, 10(4), 397–409. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-6248.1997.00397.x.
Smith, G. (2005). A Most enduring problem: Police complaints reform in England and Wales. Journal of Social Policy, 35(1), 121–141. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047279405009323.
Den Boer, M. (2018). Police oversight and accountability in a comparative perspective. In M. Den Boer (Ed.), Comparative policing from a legal perspective (pp. 443–458). London: Edward Elgar.
Campeau, H. (2015) 'Police culture' at work: Making sense of police oversight. British Journal of Criminology, 55(4) 669–687.
Savage, S. (2013). Seeking Civilianness: Police complaints and the civilian control model of oversight. The British Journal of Criminology, 55(5), 886–994.
Porter, L. E., & Prenzler, T. (2012). Police oversight in the United Kingdom: The balance of independence and collaboration. International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, 40(3), 152–171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijlcj.2012.03.001.
den Heyer, G., & Beckley, A. (2013). Police independent oversight in Australia and New Zealand. Police Practice and Research, 14(2), 130–143.
Prenzler, T. (2011). The evolution of police oversight in Australia. Policing and Society, 21(3), 284–303.
Porter, L. E. (2013). Beyond ‘oversight’: A problem-oriented approach to police reform. Police Practice and Research, 14(2), 169–181.
IPCA. (2017). Independent police conduct authority annual report 2016–2017.
IPCA. (2020). Statement of Intent 2020/2021–2023/24.
Hoyle, C. (2017). Police discourage victims pressing charges against officers, offer mediation instead. Retrieved from https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/97694427/police-discourage-victims-pressing-charges-against-officers-offer-mediation-instead.
Parahi, C. (2018). Huri Dennis, accused by police of kidnapping, tells his side of the story. Stuff. Retrieved from http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/103251817/Huri-Dennis-accused-by-police-of-kidnapping-tells-his-side-of-the-story.
Jones, N.. (2016). "Lack of funding could affect independent police conduct authority - report." The Herald, 2016. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11601353.
New Zealand Parliament. (2015). "2014/15 Annual review of Annual review of the Independent Police Conduct Authority – IPCA, responses to questions 108–115.".
Sachdeva, S.. (2016). "Police watchdog IPCA skips investigations due to financial pressures." https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/76745028/police-watchdog-ipca-skips-investigations-due-to-financial-pressures.
FYI.org.nz. (2013). "Information regarding the rollout of ipods and iphones.".
FYI.org.nz. (2018). "Complaints about police handling of sexual assault complaints." FYI.org.nz, https://fyi.org.nz/request/7249-complaints-about-police-handling-of-sexual-assault-complaints#incoming-23628. Accessed 13 May 2018.
Ensor, B.. (2013). "police complaints going more public." The Dominion Post, 20/02/2013. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/8329013/Police-complaints-going-more-public. Accessed 29 Sept 2018.
IPCA. (2013). Independent Police Conduct Authority Annual Report 2012–2013.
IPCA. (2016). Independent Police Conduct Authority Annual Report 2015–2016.
IPCA. (2018a). Independent police conduct authority annual report 2017–2018.
IPCA. (2019). Independent police conduct authority annual report 2018–2019.
Samkin, G., Allen, C., & Wallace, K. (2010). Repairing Organisational legitimacy : The case of the New Zealand police. Australasian Accounting, 4(3), 23–45.
Buttle, J. W., & Deckert, A. (2017). The police complaints process. In D. Antje & S. Rick (Eds.), The palgrave handbook of Australian and New Zealand criminology, crime and justice. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
Lawton, A., & Macaulay, M. (2017). From birth to death: The life of the standards board for England. Public Administration Review, 77(5), 720–729.
Yin, R. (2014). Case study research: design and methods. London: Sage.
Hercus, A. (1987a). Police complaints Authority & Misc. Bill: Amdts.
New Zealand. Royal Commission on the Courts. (1978). Report of Royal Commission on the Courts, 1978 : presented to the House of Representatives by command of His Excellency the Governor-General. edited by David Beattie. Wellington: Wellington : E. C. Keating, Govt. Printer.
Gallen, R. G. (2000). Review of the Police Complaints Authority. Edited by Justice new Zealand. Ministry of. Wellington, N.Z.: Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice.
Hercus, A. (1987b). Questions for written answer: Police association - apology.
East, P. (1987). Police complaints Authority & Misc. Bill: Amdts.
Banks, J. (1987). Police complaints authority & Misc. Bill: Amdts.
Morrison, B.. (2009). Identifying and responding to Bias in the criminal justice system: A review of international and New Zealand research.
Te Whaiti, P, and M Roguski. 1998. Maori perceptions of the police / by Pania Te Whaiti & Dr. Michael Roguski.
Goff, P. (2013). Independent police complaints authority amendment bill - first Reading.
Burton, M. (2007). Independent police conduct authority amendment bill - third Reading.
O'Rourke, S. (2007). "Louise Nicholas and the tangled tales of group sex and police cover-ups". New Zealand herald. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10456688. Accessed 30 July 2020.
Cleave, L. (2004). Alleged rape victim: I want to see policeman in the dock. NZ Herald. Retrieved from https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/alleged-rape-victim-iwant-to-see-policeman-in-the-dock.
TVNZ. 2007. ‘Former top cop jailed’. http://tvnz.co.nz/content/1390357/2591764.xhtml. Accessed 30 July 2020.
Kichin, P. (2010). ‘Police sex witnesses denied compensation’. The dominion post. Retrieved from http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/4010805/Police-sex-witnessesdenied-compensation.
Edwards, J.. (2015). "Louise Nicholas receives her Queen's Birthday honour" . The Dominon Post. https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/wellington/71835122/louise-nicholas-receives-her-queens-birthday-honour#comments.
Bazley, M. (2007). Report of the Commission of Inquiry into police conduct Te kōmihana tirotiro whanonga pirihimana. Volume 2 appendices Wellington [N.Z.]: Wellington N.Z. : Commission of Inquiry into police conduct.
Sharples, P. (2007b). Independent Police Conduct Authority Amendment Bill - Third Reading.
Maxwell, G. M. (1998). Police perceptions of Maori : A report / to the New Zealand police and the Ministry of Maori Development. Te Puni: Kokiri.
Sharples, P. (2007a). Independent Police Complaints Authority Amendment Bill — In Committee.
Mark, Ron. (2007). Independent police conduct authority amendment bill - third Reading.
Tancsoz, N.. (2007). Appointments — Deputy police complaints authority.
IPCA. (2008). Independent Police Conduct Authority Annual Report 2007–2008.
Mahuta, N. (2010). Appointments - independent conduct authority.
IPCA. (2015). Report on Police’s handling of the alleged offending by ‘roast busters’.
Herald. (2013). Dad of Roast Buster the face of new online venture. Herald. Retrieved from https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11161893.
Dougan, P. (2013a). Police reject ‘Roast Busters’ bias. Otago Daily Times. Retrieved from https://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/police-reject-roastbusters-bias.
Dougan, P. (2013b). Roast Busters: New vigilante group promises justice. Retrieved from https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/roast-busters-newvigilante-group-promises-justice/AMSB64XJ6IIWI2GR6ZCUZH3F24/.
Steward, I., & Dennett, K. (2014). Roast Busters case: No charges to be laid. Stuff. Retrieved from https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/10674764/Roast-Busterscase-No-charges-to-be-laid.
Yalden, P. (2018). Number of people being killed during police chases on the rise, figures show. Retrieved from https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/104285363/number-of-people-being-killed-during-police-chases-on-the-rise-figures-show.
RNZ, (2018). When should police chase fleeing vehicles?” 14 March 2018 Accessed on 30/08/2020 https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/352487/when-should-police-chase-fleeing-vehicles
Strang, B. 2019. 'IPCA police pursuits report leaves policy unchanged, recommends more training and improved technology'. 15 march 2019. RNZ. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/384777/ipca-police-pursuits-report-leaves-policy-unchanged-recommends-more-training-and-improved-technology.
RNZ. (2019). "Police chases: Avoid pursuing fleeing youths, says Judge Becroft" 24 October 2019. RNZ. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/401675/police-chases-avoid-pursuing-fleeing-youths-says-judge-becroft.
Controller and Auditor General. (2017). Response of the New Zealand Police to the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct: Final monitoring report. Retrieved from https://oag.govt.nz/2017/police/docs/police.pdf.
Savage, J. (2018). 'Deputy Commissioner apologises to Louise Nicholas for comments'. 29 June 2018. https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/deputy-commissioner-wally-haumaha-apologises-to-louise-nicholas-for-comments/. Accessed 16 Aug 2020.
IPCA. (2018b). 'Report on complaints about deputy Commissioner Wallace Haumaha'.
Independent Police Conduct Authority Amendment Bill (2007).
New Zealand Government. (1990b). "Appendix to the Journals H. of R. 1987–90." II (B):158–159.
New Zealand Government. (1988). New Zealand appendix to the journals H of R Wellington. New: Zealand.
New Zealand Government. (1990a). appendix to the Journals H. of R. 1987–90. Wellington, New Zealand.
New Zealand Government. (1994c). "Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives of New Zealand 1991–1993." IV (B):532–533.
New Zealand Government. (1994b). "Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives of New Zealand 1991–1993." V (B):488–489.
New Zealand Government. (1994a). "Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives of New Zealand 1991–1993." VI:476–477.
New Zealand Government. (1999c). Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives of New Zealand 1993–96.
New Zealand Government. (1999b). "Appendix to the journals of the house of representatives of New Zealand 1993-96 " XII B - Finance Revenue etc 628–629.
New Zealand Government. (1999a). Appendix to the journals of the house of representatives of New Zealand 1993–96. Wellington, New Zealand.
New Zealand Government. (2001). New Zealand Appendix to the Journals H. of R. 1996–1999. Wellington, New Zealand.
Treasury. (1998). “Estimates of appropriations - Vote Justice - Estimates of Appropriations 1998/99.”
Treasury. (2000). Estimates of appropriations - Vote Justice - Supplementary Estimates of Appropriations 2000/01.
Treasury. (2001). Vote Justice - Estimate of Appropriations 2001–2002.
Treasury. (2002). Vote Justice - Estimates of Appropriations 2002/2003.
PCA. (2005). Police Complaints Authority Annual Report for the Year Ended 30 June 2005.
PCA. (2007). Police Complaints Authority Annual Report 2006–2007.
IPCA. (2009). Independent police conduct authority annual report 2008–2009.
IPCA. (2011). Independent Police Conduct Authority - Annual Report 2010–2011.
IPCA. (2014). Annual report 2013–2014 independent police conduct authority.
Treasury. (2017). Vote Justice - Justice Sector Estimates 2017–2018.
Treasury. (2018). Estimates of appropriations - Vote Justice - Justice Sector - Estimates 2018/2019.
Smith, G. (2013). Oversight of the police and residual complaints dilemmas: Independence, effectiveness and accountability deficits in the United Kingdom. Police Practice & Research, 14(2), 92–103. https://doi.org/10.1080/15614263.2013.767088.
Goldsmith, A. J., & Lewis. (2000). Civilian oversight of policing: Governance, democracy and human rights. Oxford: Hart.
Taylor, B. (2005). Report of the Taylor review of police disciplinary arrangements. London: The Stationary Office.
Jackson, L, Smale, D, and Davidson, N. (2016). "Police Amalgamation and Reform in Scotland: The Long Twentieth Century. Scottish Historical Review." 95 (1):88–111. doi: https://doi.org/10.3366/shr.2016.0277.
Lennon, G., & Murray, K. (2018). Under-regulated and unaccountable? Explaining variation in stop and search rates in Scotland, England and Wales. Policing and Society, 28(2), 157–174. https://doi.org/10.1080/10439463.2016.1163359.
CCRB. 2018a. Memorandum accompanying public vote re: Sexual misconduct allegations. edited by Civilian Complaints Review Board. 100 Church Street, New York: Civilian Complaints Review Board.
Cohen, S., Moore, T., and Fears, D.. (2017). "Teen ‘shocked’ NYPD detectives claimed sex acts were consensual." The New York Post, September 29th 2017. https://nypost.com/2017/09/29/teen-shocked-nypd-detectives-claimed-sex-acts-were-consensual/. Accessed 5 May 2018.
Cohen, S., and Tacopino, J.. (2017). "Teen details how NYPD cops tried to silence her after rape." New York Post, November 25 2017. https://nypost.com/2017/11/25/teen-who-claims-nypd-cops-bullied-her-over-rape-allegations-tells-her-story/ Accessed 5 May 2018.
New York Civil Liberties Union. (2019). "COURT REJECTS CLAIM THAT SEXUAL MISCONDUCT IS NOT POLICE MISCONDUCT." FEBRUARY 28, 2019. https://www.nyclu.org/en/press-releases/court-rejects-claim-sexual-misconduct-not-police-misconduct. Accessed 25 April 2019.
The New York State Senate. 2019. Senate Bill S7708.
Congress. (2019). H.R.1574 - Closing the Law Enforcement Consent Loophole Act of 2019.
Grierson, J. (2016). "Hundreds of police in England and Wales accused of sexual abuse.".
PONI. (2017). Annual report & accounts.
PIRC. (2017). Scottish Police Authority Complaints Audit 2017. Hamilton House, Hamilton Business Park, Caird Park, Hamilton, ML3 0QA.
Johnsen, M. (2020). 'No doubt racism exists in New Zealand Police - Māori law expert'. RNZ. 2 June 2020. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/418107/no-doubt-racism-exists-in-new-zealand-police-maori-law-expert. Accessed 15 Sept 2020.
Walters, L. (2020). “Decolonise the justice system - ‘tinkering’ won’t do’. Newsroom. 10 August 2020. https://www.newsroom.co.nz/decolonise-the-justice-system-tinkering-wont-do. Accessed 15 Sept 2020.
Russell, J. (2020). Activists demand elections to fill NYPD oversight Board. June 8 2020. Courthouse news. https://www.courthousenews.com/activists-demand-elections-to-fill-nypd-oversight-board/. Accessed 31 Aug 2020.
Pattern, C. (1999). A new beginning: policing in Northern Ireland. Belfast: Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland.
Caparini, M., & Hwang, J. (2019). Police Reform in Northern Ireland: Achievements and Future Challenges. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Retrieved from https://www.sipri.org/commentary/topical-backgrounder/2019/police-reform-northern-ireland-achievements-and-future-challenges.
PONI. (2020). Annual report and accounts. p. 55. Retrieved from https://www.policeombudsman.org/PONI/files/71/711a0ac7-feee-4231-8012-cdd671173bf8.pdf.
CCRB. (2018b). "Semi-annual report January–June 2018.".
PONI. (2001). 2000–2001 six monthly review report.
PIRC. (2018). Commissioners annual report 2017–18.
Police Scotland. (2017). Professional standards department National Statistical Performance Report Covering the period: April 2016–March 2017.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Buckmaster, C., Macaulay, M. Beyond cycles - police watchdog reform mechanics. Crime Law Soc Change 75, 165–188 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10611-020-09922-1
- Police complaints
- Oversight organisations
- Reform mechanics
- Organisational growth