The Norwegian Bureau for the Investigation of Police Affairs is an investigative and prosecuting unit. The Bureau’s activities are governed by the Criminal Procedures Act, the Prosecution Instructions and directives issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions. Case handling and processing is carried out at two levels. The Bureau’s leader does not participate in or issue instructions or guidelines for the work of the investigative units.
The Investigative Units
- Receipt of a complaint or case
The Bureau receives complaints from private citizens, lawyers or from the police it selves. In some cases the Bureau establishes a case on its own initiative, for example against the background of articles in the media.
Pursuant to the Criminal Procedures Act an investigation is mandatory in cases where a person has died or been seriously injured as a result of a police action or while in the custody of the police or the prosecuting authorities.
The Bureau carries out preliminary enquiries in order to determine if there are reasonable grounds on which to initiate an investigation. The complainant will in many cases be called in to substantiate the complaint in more depth. Police documentation such as the task log for an incident or audio and/or visual recordings from the police detention unit are brought in. If the police are pursuing a “mirror action” – i.e. a criminal case against the complainant in question – documentation relating to the criminal case will as a general rule be brought in.
The Bureau is authorised to implement all legal means of investigation. The gathering of evidence in cases dealt with by the Bureau is accomplished first and foremost through interviewing the complainant, witnesses and the suspect. In some cases there are grounds for search, possibly seizure, arrest and detention in police custody. In the majority of cases documentation will be gathered as a step in the preliminary enquiries. In addition to the above it may be necessary to investigate the scene of the incident, obtain medical opinions, seize telephones or computers and gain access to logs for perusal of police registers.
- Written recommendations to the Bureau’s Director
When it is deemed that case has been sufficiently clarified, the case is forwarded to the Bureau’s Director together with a written recommendation. The recommendation is prepared by one the Bureaus permanent legal experts or external commissioned lawyers. Refer to pages 44-45 for more information on external commissioned lawyers.
The Director of the Norwegian Bureau for the Investigation of Police Affairs
- Written rulings showing basis for the ruling in all cases
The Bureau’s Director rules on all the Bureau’s cases (with the exception of cases where the question of prosecution is ruled on by the King in Council or the Director of Public Prosecutions). In all cases – including cases that are shelved without further investigation – a written ruling showing the basis for the ruling is prepared. The ruling includes details of what has been reported, what enquiries and/or investigations have been carried out by the Bureau, the facts of the case and a judicial assessment of the incident. The ruling is prepared by a legal expert from the office of the Bureau’s Director.
If no reasonable grounds are found on which to pursue the question of whether punishable offences have been committed in the service, the case is shelved without further investigation with authority in the Criminal Procedures Act Section 224. If the case has been investigated and the evidence clearly speaks against any punishable offence having being committed, the case is shelved with the comment no criminal offence proven. If the facts of the case cannot be sufficiently clarified or if there is doubt with regard to whether the objective or subjective circumstances relating to liability for punishment, the case is shelved with the comment insufficient evidence.
- Positive decisions to prosecute
When the circumstances for punishment are present, a fine or penalty notice, waiver of prosecution or an indictment is issued. In accordance with good prosecuting practice, an indictment is not issued unless one is convinced that there is culpability and that this can be proven in a court of law.
- Administrative assessments
The Bureau shall forward the case to the Chief of Police concerned, the Director of the relevant special body or other correct body or organ if through the complaint or the bureau’s investigations circumstances have been revealed that indicate that the case should be assessed and evaluated at administrative level, cf. the Prosecuting Instructions Section 34-7. Refer to page 37 for further details.
- Notification of the parties involved in the case
The ruling is sent to all parties involved in the case (in most cases the complainant and the accused police officer) and the Chief of Police concerned. The National Police Directorate receives a copy of the case if it concerns the Directorate’s area of authority. The National Police Directorate receives a copy of rulings in cases that are forwarded for an administrative assessment.
- Appeals to the Director of Public Prosecutions
The decisions and rulings reached by the Norwegian Bureau for the Investigation of Police Affairs can be appealed to the Director of Public Prosecutions.