Reports of police misconduct in Victoria can be made against officers in the police force as well as protective service officers (PSOs), public service employees of Victoria Police who work in administrative and professional roles, and police officers in training.
Where to report police misconduct in Victoria
Three different bodies can deal with complaints about the conduct of police in Victoria.
If your complaint is minor, you should contact the Station Commander at your local police station or at the police station nearest to where the incident occurred. If your matter is more serious, a complaint can be made to the Police Conduct Unit of the Victoria Police Professional Standards Command (PSC), or to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).
If you are unsure where to make your complaint, you can contact IBAC for advice. It will either take on your complaint, or refer you to the appropriate body.
If your complaint concerns racism, discrimination or human rights issues, you also have a right to complain to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
Making a false complaint or creating a false belief is an offence under both the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Act 2011 (IBACA) and the Crimes Act 1958.
Making a complaint about police misconduct in Victoria
Police misconduct in Victoria is defined in the Victoria Police Act 2013 and the IBACA to include:
- the failure or refusal to perform duties
- behaving disgracefully or improperly whether on or off duty
- discrediting Victoria Police
- lessening public confidence in Victoria Police, or
- committing an offence which carries a jail term.
When making a complaint, please ensure you include all known details, such as:
- your name and contact details
- the name or names of any officer(s) or associated persons involved and their station
- the names of any witnesses and their contact details
- where and when the incident occurred
- what happened – try to give as much detail as possible
- any photos or documents you have to support your complaint, like photos of your injuries or invoices for damage
- the result you want from your complaint, such as an apology or reimbursement for damage.
Make sure you sign your complaint if you are putting it in writing and keep a copy of it.
Complaints to Professional Standards Command (PSC)
If you have a complaint about more serious police misconduct in Victoria, or if you have spoken to the Station Commander and still wish to make a formal complaint, you can do so by using the online form.
The PSC is responsible for setting and promoting high standards of practice, performance, conduct and integrity within Victoria Police. It investigates allegations of unethical behaviour or misconduct, and is responsible for education and training which enhances the ‘ethical health’ of the force.
Complaints to Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission
The Victorian anti-corruption commission, IBAC, has authority to investigate complaints of poor police behaviour, including serious misconduct and corruption.
When a complaint is made to IBAC, they can either:
- dismiss it
- make some further enquiries
- conduct a full investigation if the complaint involves serious misconduct or corruption, or
- refer it on if there is a more appropriate body to investigate it.
You can lodge your complaint online.
Sometimes, a complaint will be a ‘protected disclosure complaint’. These used to be known as ‘whistleblower’ complaints. In these cases, the person who makes the complaint has legal protections under the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (PDA).
If you are concerned about the possibility of repercussions as a result of making a complaint of police misconduct in Victoria, you can request that it be assessed as a protected disclosure under the PDA. The decision as to whether it is a protected disclosure is made by IBAC.
If it is deemed protected:
- your name can’t ever be publicised
- you, your family, friends and colleagues are protected from being fired or bullied for making the complaint
- you are protected from defamation allegations or actions in reprisal for making the disclosure
- you are protected from civil or criminal liability and administrative or disciplinary action for making the disclosure
- you are protected from charges under any law that imposes confidentiality, and for breaching any other obligation that prevented or restricted you from disclosing certain information.
If your complaint about police misconduct in Victoria is a protected disclosure, you can’t divulge the details to anyone except your lawyer, an interpreter (if required), or (if under 18) a parent or guardian.
Additional information is available:
- if you are thinking of making a protected disclosure
- setting out the procedures and the guidelines for your workplace to help you complain
- for making and handling protected disclosures, and
- concerning your welfare after a complaint.
This article reflects the state of the law as at 25 January 2016. 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.