Minor complaints about police demeanour or inaction are made at the police station concerned. Discrimination complaints are made to IBAC or a Human Rights Commission. Procedural and other failings should go to the regional duty officer. Serious allegations should be made to IBAC or Victoria Police Professional Standards Command.
There are many different kinds of complaints, some extremely serious, others not so serious. If you decide to lodge a complaint, the place where you lodge it should be determined by the kind of complaint you have and the outcome you are looking for.
It is appropriate for minor complaints (e.g. a police officer was rude or failed to answer a call for assistance) to be lodged at the police station where the problem occurred. Such complaints can be made to the officer in charge of the police station (usually a sergeant or senior sergeant). The officer should note the details of your complaint in writing. The resolution of minor complaints generally involves conciliation rather than investigation.
Alternatively, complaints can be lodged at another police station in the same police district, or to Victoria Police Conduct Unit (for contact details, see “Contacts”).
For the most part, IBAC has a minimal role in these complaints.
Complaints involving racism or other forms of discrimination should be made to IBAC, as well as to either the Australian or Victorian Human Rights Commissions. In general, complaints should be made to the Australian Human Rights Commission when you are alleging that discrimination occurred when the police dealt with you as the suspect of an offence. Complaints should be made to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission when you are alleging that discrimination occurred by the police failing to act when you were the victim of a crime. For contact details for the state and federal commissions, see “Contacts”.
It is worth noting that complaints to either of these commissions will not ordinarily lead to disciplinary or criminal sanctions against police, but may lead to systemic policy and practice changes and/or compensation. For more information, see Discrimination and human rights.
Complaints about police members failing to follow police procedures or to adhere to the police’s legal requirements are most frequently made to the relevant region’s duty officer (there are four Victorian police regions: western, eastern, north-west metro and southern metro; to see which region you live in, visit Victoria Police’s website at www.police.vic.gov.au, and click on the “Your local police” tab). One of the functions of regional duty officers is to make preliminary inquiries into complaints.
Whether you lodge a complaint with a police duty officer or with IBAC depends on the seriousness of the police failure and whether you believe that it necessitates a substantial examination of police procedure. If it does, lodging your complaint with IBAC makes good sense. (For IBAC’s contact details, see “Contacts”.)