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 types 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 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 region (a list of which suburbs fall under which police regions is available at www.vicpolicenews.com.au) or to the 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 the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC), or to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (for contact details, see “Contacts”).
In general, complaints should be made to the AHRC 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 VEOHRC when you are alleging that discrimination occurred by the police failing to act when you were the victim of a crime.
It is worth noting that complaints to either of these commissions do 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 officers failing to follow police procedures or to adhere to the police’s legal requirements should be made to the duty officer of the police region in which the problem occurred. (There are four Victorian police regions: western, eastern, north-west metro and southern metro; to see which region the problem occurred 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, you should lodge your complaint with IBAC. (For IBAC’s contact details, see “Contacts”.)