February 28 - March 4, 2022
The international and interdisciplinary research project POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY – TOWARDS INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS (2021-2022) was launched in early 2021. The project investigates the work of independent police accountability bodies that have been established in many countries over the past decades. However, these bodies are highly divergent with respect to their powers and practices. The project compares the powers, functioning and the output of the independent police accountability bodies and the levels of empowerment granted to complainants.
The Police Accountability project is a cooperation of the Berlin School of Economics and Law, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, University of Dundee, The University of Strathclyde, Centre de Recherches Sociologiques sur le Droit et les Institutions Pénales, Université de Strasbourg, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Kyoto Sangyo University, and Meiji University.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project work took place mostly online in the first year. Eventually, from February 28 – March 4, 2022, team members were able to meet in-person at the Berlin Institute for Safety and Security Research (FÖPS Berlin) of the Berlin School of Economics and Law (HWR). Prof. Dr. Hartmut Aden, in his role as over-overall project coordinator, welcomed the colleagues and had reserved the historic „Berlin Room“ on the HWR-Lichtenberg campus for this event. Researchers from Canada, France, Germany and the UK participated live while some others joined the meeting online.
Intense discussions on key terms, political-social dimensions of police accountability and methodological approaches brought the work forward. Team members presented first research results and coordinated further steps for comparison.
The native Berliner team member gave a tour along the Berlin Wall memorial at Bernauer Straße with reference to police accountability and state violence and suggested some culinary hotspots Berlin’s restaurant scene has to offer. Intensive as well as informal discussions helped to prepare future team work.
The next in-person team meetings of the „Police Accountability“ project are planned to take place at the University of Dundee, UK, in September 2022, and at the Kyoto Sangyo University, Japan, in February/March 2023, in addition to panels at international conferences.
Written by: Sonja John
February 27 - March 8 2023
The Japan Meeting in the framework of the JSPS ORA Program "Police Accountability: Toward International Standards" was held from February 27 to March 8 at the Institute of Criminal Justice, Campus Plaza Kyoto, and Kyoto Sangyo University with the Institute for Criminal Justice as the Japanese representative organization.
Researchers from the U.K., Germany, France, and Canada participated in the meetings and discussed the results of their research to date, publications of their research results, and other topics.
On February 28, after a welcome speech by Prof. Masahiro Tamura, Director of the Research Institute for Social Safety and Police Science, there were presentations on police accountability in Japan, trust surveys, etc. by Institute for Criminal Justice visiting researcher Dr. Yoshiki Kobayashi, Professor at Meiji University, and Takahito Shimada, Director of the Criminal Behavior Science Department, National Research Institute of Police Science, National Police Agency. A lively Q&A session was held with overseas researchers.
On March 1 and 2, during the meeting, participants visited the Gion Police Station, the police academy, and a riot police rescue drill with the cooperation of the International Interpretation Center of the Police Department, Kyoto Prefectural Police Headquarters.
The meeting ended successfully on March 8, and it was decided that the next meeting will be held in Canada this summer.
26th August – 2nd September 2022
Our 2 nd in- person team meeting was hosted in the Upper floor rooms of the Tower Building at the University of Dundee, affording us a beautiful view across the Tay to Fife beyond, a wonderful respite during full days of focussed discussions. Both practical discussions to move the project forward, and more theoretical discussions on core concepts filled our week in Dundee.
Qualitative work on themes developed from early interviews contributed to a shared understanding of country context and potential findings. Each country shared summaries of country reports developed since our Berlin meeting. These documents will become comprehensive accounts of publicly available knowledge, and information gleaned from stakeholder interviews regarding capabilities, scope, and regulation in each jurisdiction’s IPCB systems. A rich resource for reference throughout our comparative work. We began some of the work of comparing contexts during this week.
Early findings were also shared from a public survey conducted in Canada on knowledge of and trust in oversight mechanisms, along with an update on the survey being conducted in France. This work will form an important counterpoint to our work exploring perspectives of those working within the system. We dedicated several sessions to conceptual discussions, including dynamics behind reforms, frontiers in research on IPCBs and a brainstorming session on international standards and their limitations.
We were also honoured to welcome Professor Dr. Chang-Ho Lim (Daejon University) who joined via Teams to give an informative presentation on his work regarding measures for improving the police accountability mechanism in South Korea.
2 nd September 2022
We took the opportunity on the final day to invite several UK stakeholder organisations to join us either in-person or on Teams. After a brief welcome by Prof. Nick Fyfe, Country complaints handling overviews were presented for Germany (Speaker: Hartmut Arden), Canada (Sp: Marc Alain), and France (Sp: Morgane Hérault). Attendees spent time exchanging ideas and good practice examples regarding complaint handling.
Although such academic/practice feedback and networking sessions are quite common in the UK, for other international project attendees it was more unusual. The team decided to include similar sessions for future in-person meetings in Canada and France.