Most complaints about police misconduct are dealt with by Tasmania Police, but more serious allegations can be dealt with by the Ombudsman or the Integrity Commission. The Ombudsman also has the power to review investigations conducted by Tasmania Police to ensure the complaint was managed appropriately.
All complaints must be made in writing. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, complaints to Tasmania Police must be filed within 6 months of the behaviour complained about, and complaints to the Ombudsman must be filed within 2 years.
Unless you choose to remain anonymous, you will be advised when your complaint is received and of the progress of the investigation.
It is a criminal offence to make a false complaint.
Police misconduct in Tasmania is conduct, or an attempt to engage in conduct, that is or involves:
- a breach of the police code of conduct
- the dishonest or improper exercise of functions or powers
- the misuse of information obtained in the course of duty
- the misuse of public resources
- doing anything to affect, or attempt to affect, another public officer’s honest or proper work.
Serious misconduct occurs when a police officer undertakes misconduct that:
- could be expected to lead to the loss of their job, or
- could result in criminal charges.
Complaints to Tasmania Police can be made anonymously but it may make the investigation difficult.
When reporting police misconduct in Tasmania, you should provide as much information as possible, including:
- unless you wish to remain anonymous, your name and contact details
- a full description of the matter
- the date, time and location of the conduct you are reporting
- the names of everyone involved or who might be able to assist in resolving your complaint
- the names of the police officers (if you know them)
- copies or details of any documents, records or witnesses that could help resolve your complaint
- what you hope to achieve
- any further information that might be relevant.
Police can refuse your complaint if you are intoxicated, abusive, threatening, violent or threatening violence, or causing property damage.
The options available to resolve the complaint range from conciliation through to a formal investigation. If you have provided your details, you will be advised of the intended course of action and how long it is expected to take.
The Office of the Ombudsman works in an impartial, independent, and objective way to resolve complaints and to identify and address systemic problems.
You can make your complaint by phone or in person, but you will be asked to put it in writing before they begin enquiries.
You can use the online complaint form or complete the printable complaint form and return it by mail, fax or email. Include full details of the complaint – dates, witnesses, and copies of letters and other documents. Set out your concerns clearly and simply, and tell them the outcome you are hoping for.
If there is a more appropriate body to deal with your complaint, you may be referred there.
If your complaint is accepted, an investigation officer will try to finalise the complaint without conducting a formal investigation. Most complaints are resolved this way, but formal investigations can be undertaken if necessary.
The Integrity Commission is an independent body established to maintain integrity in government and public authorities in Tasmania.
Any person can make a complaint about police misconduct in Tasmania, including serious misconduct.
A complaint to the Integrity Commission must be written, and should be made in good faith in the belief that it is correct. If you deliberately give the Commission false or misleading information, you may be charged with an offence. The penalty is up to 1 year imprisonment or a fine of up to $770,000.
You can complain anonymously but you are encouraged to provide your personal details or they will be unable to contact you if more information is required.
You do not have to provide every possible document to support your complaint, but you should ensure that you clearly outline everything that is relevant to your complaint.
You can make a complaint to the Integrity Commission by:
This article reflects the state of the law as at 23 December 2015. It is intended to be of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please telephone 1300 636 846 or request a consultation at gotocourt.com.au.