This module is a resource for lecturers  


Student assessment


This section provides a suggestion(s) for a post-class assignment for the purpose of assessing student understanding of the Module. Suggestions for pre-class or in-class assignments are provided in the Exercises section.

To assess students' understanding of the Module, the following post-class assignments are proposed:


Assignment 1: Mapping of national actors and mechanisms overseeing the police  

This assignment might be more suitable to junior level bachelor students.

Find the corresponding actor in (the country). Write a paragraph each on their role in overseeing the police:

  • Internal control unit within the police
  • Inspectorate of the relevant Ministry
  • Judicial institutions
  • Parliamentary committee overseeing the police
  • Independent oversight mechanisms (Ombudsman Institution, Anti-Corruption Commission, National Human Rights Institution)
  • Civil society organizations and media

Assignment 2: Research paper on a national oversight actor

This assignment might be more suitable to graduate level students with a background in law.

  • Pick one of the control or oversight actors discussed during the class (for example internal police disciplinary unit, parliamentary committee, ombudsman institution etc.).
  • Check the law/bylaw regulating its oversight function (for example the law on ombudsman institution). Critically assess the extent to which the law/bylaw complies with international standards.
  • Research the relevant public policy context to identify whether there are factors that enhance or impede effective control/oversight to a level consistent with international standards. In this part of the exercise, it would be useful to look for media, academic or NGO reports that provide commentary and/or critique of the function of the control/oversight body.
  • Write a paper assessing whether that actor's mandate, oversight powers and competences are in line with international standards on police oversight.
  • Draft recommendations to improve the function of the control/oversight body, taking care to ensure that these are relevant to the context, and consistent with international standards. 

Assignment 3: Essay writing - complaint handling

This assignment might be more suitable to senior bachelor-level students.

"Police services should not be allowed to investigate fellow police officers. All complaints of police misconduct or crimes committed by the police should be investigated by an external and independent mechanism." Write an essay critically assessing this viewpoint, with references to international standards. 


Assignment 4: Essay writing - whistle-blowing

"Those intending blowing the whistle on police misconduct should first be obliged to report the misconduct internally. Only when internal reporting mechanisms are exhausted, should a person be allowed to whistle blow. Whistle-blowers who do not recourse to internal mechanisms first should be punished". Discuss


Assignment 5: Thinking critically through fiction

Movies seek to entertain and inform the audience about a story, incident, or person. Many good movies also hit upon important substantive themes relevant to understanding police corruption and abuses. Watch the following movie and answer the questions that follow. Please, bear in mind that movies often simplify reality and might perpetuate stereotypes.

Training Day (2001) - Director Antoine Fuqua

«Police drama about a veteran officer who escorts a rookie on his first day with the LAPD's tough inner-city narcotics unit. "Training Day" asks the audience to decide what is necessary, what is heroic and what crosses the line in the harrowing grey zone of fighting urban crime. Does law-abiding law enforcement come at the expense of justice and public safety? If so, do we demand safe streets at any cost?» (Google, n.d.)

Answer the following questions:

  • In your opinion what is the key message of the movie?
  • What are the instances which present ethical dilemmas for the police officers?
  • Which acts of Detective Alonso are criminal offences, and which ones acts in breach of integrity? 
  • How does the movie make viewers think about whether ends justify the means? Give examples.

Assignment 6: Report analysis - Police detention and accountability

Find the most recent United Nations report on the conditions of detention in your country. This could be the report of the SPT country visit, report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, arbitrary executions; Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee, or the Committee against Torture. If you cannot find such a report, check the reports of regional actors or international NGOs and detention monitors (Amnesty International, Penal Reform International and so forth).

Answer the following questions:

  • What are the main problems concerning detention as per those reports?
  • Which accountability mechanisms are recommended for a more effective police accountability in detention? Do you think the recommended measures are feasible and applicable in the context of your country?
  • Since the publication of the report, has the government taken any measures to address the shortcomings identified by the detention monitor(s)? If so, do you think these measures are effective? Discuss.

Assignment 7: Policy analysis - Gender and police accountability

Note: This assignment is possible if the country (or the law enforcement agency) has a gender or VAW prevention strategy and action plan, either as a standalone document or as part of a wider human rights strategy.

Read the Gender Strategy of (the country/law enforcement agency). Comparing it to the Updated Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, assess whether the national Gender Strategy foresees the mechanisms and procedures stipulated in the United Nations Model Strategy. Identify what safeguards, mechanisms are missing and discuss their potential implications for police accountability in the context of investigating SGBV.

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