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Who handles complaints

Complaints about police behaviour or inaction can be made to the:

  • officer in charge at any police station
  • district police duty inspector/officer
  • independent broad-based anti-corruption commission (IBAC)
  • Victorian Police Conduct Unit (PCU).

Most complaints against police will probably be handled directly by police. They have discretion to informally investigate complaints they consider to be less serious, such as a failure to investigate a reported crime or rudeness, at station or district management level.

Anyone may make a complaint directly to IBAC. If IBAC are not able to investigate the complaint, they will refer the complaint to the appropriate body.

See s. 167—Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic).

Police Conduct Unit

Complaints can be made directly to the Police Conduct Unit (PCU), which is part of the police Professional Standards Command.

Note: This police complaints body used to be called the Ethical Standards Department or (ESD). Its method of dealing with complaints has not changed, only the name.

The unit will first assess the complaints before deciding how a complaint will be handled. If they formally investigate a complaint, the investigators (usually detectives) will first interview the complainant and any witnesses. They will then carry out further investigations. It may take many months for a decision to be made.

If the complaint is substantiated, they will set disciplinary measures as they believe appropriate. The complainant will be informed of the outcome of the investigation.

The Victoria Police Manual states a number of police incidents which must be immediately reported to PCU, whether a complaint has been lodged or not. These include the following incidents:

  • discharging a firearm
  • death, serious injury, suicide attempt or admission to hospital of a person in police custody or custody related police operations
  • report of rape or other sexual assault in which a police employee, either on or off duty, is alleged to be involved as the suspect or offender
  • complaint or incident involving a prisoner subject to extradition proceedings
  • complaint involving police attendance at demonstrations
  • complaint or incident involving a breach of a family violence intervention order by a police employee
  • other serious matters involving an employee involving criminality or corruption.

See Victoria Police Manual—Complaint and discipline.

Independent broad-based anti-corruption commission (IBAC)

IBAC is independent of the police force. It is responsible for identifying and preventing serious corrupt conduct across the Victorian public sector. It also replaces the Office of Police Integrity (OPI) and so also handles complaints about corruption or misconduct by police personnel. This includes complaints about:

  • an act, decision (or failure or refusal to act or perform a duty that is required of a police officer
  • conduct that is likely to bring the police force or personnel into disrepute or to adversely affect public confidence
  • disgraceful or improper conduct by a sworn officer
  • conduct that would be punishable by a jail term.

IBAC is ultimately responsible for monitoring the complaint investigations done by the police.

A person can complain to IBAC even if they have already lodged a complaint to the police.

See IBAC and s. 167(6)—Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic).

Victorian Ombudsman

The Victorian ombudsman no longer handles complaints about police.

More information

Legislation

Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic)

  • s. 167—making of complaints
  • s. 167(6)—person can complain to IBAC even if the complaint has already been made to police
  • s. 169—misconduct complaints made to a police officer or PSO must be investigated by chief commissioner (or delegate)
  • s. 170—investigations by the chief commissioner and IBAC reporting requirements

See Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic).

Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Act 2011(Vic)

  • s. 52—police personnel conduct complaints to IBAC
  • s. 53—a complaint to IBAC must be in writing
  • s. 64—conducting investigations about police personnel
  • s. 67—complaints to IBAC which do not warrant investigation
  • s. 69—discontinuing an investigation
  • s. 73—referral of complaint to another person or body

See Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Act 2011 (Vic).

References

Independent broad-based anti-corruption commission (IBAC)

The independent Victorian statutory organisation that deals investigates misconduct by police personnel (both sworn and unsworn members of the police. The site has information in several community languages.

See:

The Law Handbook

Fitzroy Legal Service’s Law Handbook has information about making a complaint against the Victoria Police.

See Complaints against Victoria Police.

Victoria Police Manual

The Victoria Police Manual outlines the police policies and procedures for receiving and responding to complaints and incidents.

See:

See also Victoria Police—Guideline for making handling and investigating protected disclosures.

Related pages

The VLA website provides the following information:

Updated