IPID cases 'cover-up': McBride says Viewfinder exposé is 'misleading'

Former head says apparent anomaly is just actually a matter of routine admin

IPID cases 'cover-up': McBride says Viewfinder exposé is 'misleading'

Former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) boss Robert McBride has criticised an exposé by Viewfinder, which found that the police watchdog had failed victims of police brutality and helped officers escape accountability.

The story detailed how IPID officials allegedly manipulated the case management system and closed cases in order to improve performance statistics.

In his right of reply titled "If You're Going To Question People's Integrity You Better Have Integrity Yourself", McBride said the exposé was misleading.

"Someone who doesn't know the workings of IPID and the criminal justice system, would be alarmed by Viewfinder's attempt at a hatchet job against myself and IPID's hardworking investigators," he said of the report published on Monday.

In his statement, McBride addressed allegations against two IPID officials, saying "there was no irregularity here".

"They were doing the administrative work that is required of them by the standard operating procedure [SOP], that is to update the case management system [CMS]. The SOP does not prescribe a set time for updating the CMS."

McBride attempted to give context to the matter by traversing through IPID's transition from the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) and his time at IPID.

Once the ICD became IPID, he said, it "still had the baggage of being mostly staffed by investigators from the police service, with a policing culture and a reluctance to investigate their former colleagues. In any event, the new IPID was not yet a butterfly but a hesitant chrysalis."

This was exacerbated by the "musical chairs of leadership" that IPID experienced which he said caused instability and "allowed police units and the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority], a-la-Cato Manor and a-la-rendition, to manipulate IPID".

McBride said he had checked the story with a senior IPID member.

He quotes the member as saying, "The true facts are that investigators go out to conduct investigations, speak to witnesses, obtain exhibits, toxicology reports, etc. Once the investigation is complete, the administrative part of the work needs to be done before updating it on the electronic management system.

"The supervisors or senior managers ensure that all the work is done and that all relevant evidence is included in the docket. Once satisfied, he will then update all such cases/dockets that have been given to him by the investigators, on the system. Hence, you will find it appears that one person 'completed' numerous cases on one day."

McBride added that there was also a responsibility on the NPA to prosecute these cases.

"A fair assessment of IPID's impact would include all convictions, both criminal and misconduct, as well as other factors such as dismissals."

In 2017/18, he said, there were 99 criminal convictions and 234 disciplinary convictions, 311 police members were convicted in disciplinary matters of which 36 were dismissed.

"If the same analysis was made for the other years, the true picture begins to emerge."

Once the ICD transitioned into IPID, McBride said, its backlog and workload did too.

"The bulk was misconduct cases such as failure to perform, gross discourtesy and sleeping on duty, etc. None of these are police brutality cases.

"It is misleading to lump them all under the label of police brutality. I'm not at all saying there were no problems in IPID during my tenure but if you're going to mislead, at least get the facts right. And please do it elegantly," McBride said.

The author of the story said he would comment on the matter in due course.