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We are the only NZ Police oversight body

We are not part of the NZ Police

Under law we are fully independent

If you have a complaint about the NZ Police, you can come to us

Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

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Legislation and accountability

Read about the laws and statutes that govern the IPCA and define our role and powers.


We have responsibilities under three pieces of legislation.

1. The Independent Police Conduct Authority Act 1988

We were established by Parliament under the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act in 1989.

View the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act 1988.

2. The Crown Entities Act 2004

As an Independent Crown Entity we are politically independent and accountable only to Parliament for our performance and use of taxpayer funding.

View the Crown Entities Act 2004.

3. The Crimes of Torture Act 1989

We have responsibilities under the Crimes of Torture Act 1989 and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). The focus is to prevent human rights breaches in places of Police detention.

Read about our role in monitoring places of detention.

View the Crimes of Torture Act 1989.

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

There also exists an MoU between the IPCA and the NZ Police. This sets out the principles and processes through which each work together to ensure effective independent oversight.

Our legislative functions

Find out here about our legislative functions under the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act 1988 and the Crimes of Torture Act 1989.

Our legislative functions under the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act 1988


Under section 12 of the Act our functions are to:

  • receive complaints alleging misconduct or neglect of duty by any member of Police
  • receive complaints concerning any Police practice, policy or procedure affecting a complainant
  • investigate incidents in which a member of Police (acting in the execution of his or her duty) causes or appears to have caused death or serious bodily harm.
Notification of Police

Under sections 17 and 18 of the Act we must notify Police of any complaint we receive about them. The Police must notify us of any Police complaint they receive within five working days.

Resolution of complaints

Under section 17 of the Act where a complaint should be resolved through action by the Police to address the issues raised, we may recommend this and co-ordinate the resolution process.

Investigative powers

Under sections 23-26 of the Act we have the same powers as a Commission of Inquiry to summon witnesses and gather evidence.

Police are required to provide all information and assistance needed for us to carry out our investigations.

Determining the outcome of an investigation

Under sections 27 and 28 of the Act once an investigation is completed, we must determine whether any Police act or omission was unlawful, unreasonable, unjustified, unfair or undesirable.

We must inform the Police of our findings and can make recommendations. This may include recommending disciplinary or criminal proceedings.


Under section 27 of the Act we do not have the power to lay criminal charges or take disciplinary action.

If we're unsatisfied with the Police response to our recommendations, we must inform the Attorney-General and the Minister of Police. Under section 29 the Attorney-General must in turn inform Parliament.

Public reports

Under section 32(1) of the Act, we must maintain secrecy in respect of complaints and by section 23(2) conduct our investigations in private.

However, under section 34 of the Act we do have the discretion to publish outcomes of our investigations. Unless there is a good reason not to, reports of our independent investigations are available to be read in the complaint outcomes section of this site.

Other records of investigations and summaries can be found in publications and media.

Our legislative functions as a National Preventive Mechanism under the Crimes of Torture Act 1989

Examine places of Police detention

Under section 27 of the Act we are required to examine conditions of detention and the treatment of detainees in places of Police detention.

Make recommendations

We may make recommendations when appropriate for improving conditions of detention, improving treatment of detainees and preventing inhuman treatment in places of Police detention.

Report on the exercise of our functions under the Act

We report annually to the House of Representatives and the Central National Preventive Mechanism - the Human Rights Commission - on our functions under the Act.


As an Independent Crown entity we must account to Parliament for our performance and use of taxpayer funding.

We do this by providing:

  • A Statement of Intent (SOI) to Parliament covering a four year period.
  • An annual Statement of Performance Expectations (SOE). This sets out our budget and performance measures against which our operations can be judged and how the strategic objectives in the SOI will be achieved.
  • An Annual Report to Parliament. This sets out how we have performed against our budget and performance measures. Our Annual Report is independently audited to ensure our financial and service performance is accurately reported.

We also make four-monthly reports to the Minister of Justice and the Chair of the Authority appears before the Justice Select Committee each year to report on and answer questions about budget and performance measures.

Read our corporate publications.

Read more about accountability requirements for independent Crown entities.

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