The complaints desk of the DPP is situated at the Headquarters and is responsible for receiving and responding to complaints from members of the public or other aggrieved persons. It is charged with the responsibility of handling complaints from all over the country, subject to the following process:
- All complaints must first be lodged with the Resident State Attorney / Prosecutor responsible for the area where the offense was committed. Where the complainant is dissatisfied with the response of the RSA / P or where the complaint pertains to the Resident State Attorney / Prosecutor, then:
- The complaint is escalated to the Regional Officer for handling.
- Complaints should only be addressed to the DPP after the Regional Officer has handled the same and there is dissatisfaction with his / her decision.
What is a complaint?
A complaint is a grievance received from a person showing discontent at the way a case is being handled / has been handled and may be made verbally or in writing.
Some complaints are about the way a case is being handled at hearing stage. A prosecutor may be seen as biased in the way they are prosecuting a case in court, and the complainant would like another person to intervene to save the situation. Other complaints are about the way a case is being handled at perusal stage, for example, issues pertaining to delays in perusals, erroneous decisions being taken etc.
Who lodges a complaint?
Anyone ranging from the victims of crime, suspects or accused persons or interested parties can lodge a complaint about a case.
Guidelines to RSA (P) when handling complaints.
- Once a complaint is received, determine what kind of problem the complainant has.
- Determine whether the complaint emanates from a police file that has either been handled by police or by your office.
- Some complaints are about matters that have not yet been reported at the police station, and some are about matters that are not criminal in nature, for example, civil debts , family quarrels , etc.
- If the case has not been reported to police, but you determine that the complaint shows some criminal elements, advise the complainant to first go to police and report the matter so that it is investigated.
- If the complaint does not involve any thing criminal, advise the complainant accordingly and tell them where to report their grievances, for example filing a civil suit, filing a petition in the family and children’s court or contacting a private lawyer for assistance.
- If a case has already been reported at police, advise the complainant to put their complaint in writing so that it is officially received by the office and subsequent action taken. As a general rule, you should always advise the complainant to reduce their complaint in writing and where possible in the English language for ease of communication and reference.
- When the complaint has been received, and the case file happens to be at Police, write a letter to the relevant authorities at police in most cases the officer in charge of criminal investigations at the police station investigating the matter requesting them to forward the file to your office for perusal and legal advice. It is always wise to copy that letter to the complainant so that he/she is aware of the action taken by the office.
- If the file is already with your office, get it and peruse it in light of the complaint, and advise the police accordingly. If you are the head of the station, i.e. RSA and the file in question was already allocated to another officer, you can pass on the complaint to the action officer so that file is perused in light of the complaint. The RSA should follow up with the state attorney handling the file in order to ensure proper redress has been given. If the complaint is a grievance about the action officer that was allocated the file, you should request for the file and peruse it yourself, and determine whether the complaint has merit. You can then give the necessary advice accordingly.
- If the complainant has a problem with the officer prosecuting the case in court, you can talk to the prosecutor and direct them on how to proceed, if it is a case of poor procedure, guide them on whatever mistake was made and find a way of remedying the situation. If however the complainant is still uncomfortable with the prosecutor, you can re- allocate the file to another prosecutor, or handle the case yourself. This only applies if the complainant is the victim and not the suspect. The suspect generally should not dictate who prosecutes his case.
What action is taken when a complaint is against the RSA/RSP or a decision that was taken by the RSA/RSP.
If a complaint is concerning a decision taken by the RSA, the RSA should first explain to the complainant the legal reason for taking such decision which may be considered unfavorable by the complainant. With proper explanation, the complainant might appreciate the reasoning and abandon the complaint.
If the complainant is still dissatisfied with the decision, you should go ahead with your decision, but advise the complainant of the other avenues of appealing. You can advise the complainant to write a complaint to the relevant Regional Officer.
Handling complaints at the DPP Headquarters.
Complaints at the head office are received by the registry; they are filed and passed on to the complaints desk officer.
When the complaints desk officer receives the complaint, he/she peruses it and determines the best course of action to address the complaint.
In some cases, it may be found best to call the RSA and seek the position of the file, or seek a brief of the contents/position of the file, if it is still found necessary that the file is handled by headquarters, the police file will be called to headquarters for further perusals and management.
When the file is requested for and the RSA had already sent it back to police, the RSA should write to police requesting for the file for onward submission to headquarters. If the file is still at the RSA station, a forwarding letter should be drafted, and the file is sent with the forwarding letter.
Some files that are called by the complaints desk may already be at hearing stage. If that is the case, the RSA should determine whether hearing is in advanced stages or not. If prosecution case is about to close , or if the case is already on defense stage, the RSA should call complaints desk , or the Deputy DPP in charge of prosecutions, or the DPP and inform them that a file that has been called for is in advanced stages of hearing. This helps to avoid a miscarriage of justice, as the request to forward the file can be halted, and decision left to court.
This also reduces on unnecessary movement of the file to and fro headquarters hence delaying justice.
When files are delivered to headquarters, they are received by the registry, entered in PROCAM, and then forward to the allocating officer, with the written complaints attached to them. The allocating officer allocates the files to different state attorneys stationed at headquarters for perusal and advice. The files are read in light of the complaints that were filed. After a decision is made, the files are returned back to the registry with a forwarding letter to the RSA with the necessary advice, for further action.
Thereafter files are sent back to the RSA stations for further action. The possible decision made range from closing files for lack of sufficient evidence , ordering for further investigations, sending back the file to continue with hearing , or withdrawing the file from court for lack of evidence.
The files are picked up from headquarters by the RSA or a duly authorized officer of the Directorate sent by the RSA. In some cases, our registry staff delivers the files back to the stations.
While handling complaints, staff are expected to act with utmost courtesy and to:
- Endeavor to patiently listen to the complainant and explain to them the decisions taken in the easiest language possible as most of them are lay men and may not be familiar with legal language.
- Always advise complainants to lodge complaints in writing.
- Act without undue delay.
Ag. Chief State Attorney (Head Complaints)
DPP Headquarters, Workers House Floor 12
Official telephone: 0794 332122
State Attorney (Complaints)
DPP Headquarters, Workers House Floor 12
Official telephone: 0794 332134