After an incident of police misconduct, you should collect evidence straightaway to make sure your version of events is as credible as possible.
1 Make a record of the event
If you do not lodge a complaint about the police misconduct straightaway, make a detailed record (in writing or as an audio recording) as soon as possible after the incident. Include everything you remember in as much detail as you can. If you record a conversation, use the actual words spoken, in the “I said”, “he said” style.
If you record the incident in writing, sign and date what you have written and, if you can, get someone else to witness this.
Try to record the names, ranks and badge numbers of the police officers involved in the incident.
It is useful to describe in detail the appearance of anyone involved in the incident. This can make a big difference later when it is not always easy to identify who did what and who was present.
2 Make a note of witnesses
Write down the names, contact details and descriptions of any people who witnessed the incident and encourage them to write down what they saw.
If the incident of police misconduct occurred while you were in police custody, you should make a note of who saw you immediately before you went into custody and who saw you immediately afterwards; these people can corroborate that you did not have the injuries before you went into police custody and that you did have the injuries straight after you left the police. Get these people to write an account of what they remember.
3 Preserve CCTV or other surveillance footage
Businesses, car parks, train stations and some councils (e.g. the City of Melbourne) have CCTV cameras that may have recorded the incident. CCTV footage is usually deleted after a short period of time (from 24 hours to 14 days). You can ask for a copy of the CCTV footage from the relevant business.
If they won’t give you a copy, tell them the footage might be used as evidence and ask them to preserve the footage. Your lawyer should be able to access the footage at a later time.
4 Get photographs of any injuries
Get photographs of your injuries straightaway after the incident and a few days later when the bruises have come out. Make sure the photographs are focused and in perspective.
IBAC or the PCU can arrange for a photographer to take photos of your injuries (for IBAC’s and the PCU’s contact details, see “Contacts”).
5 Get a medical record of any injuries
Visit a doctor and show them your injuries. Try to make sure the doctor records all your injuries.
If you contact IBAC or the PCU straightaway after the incident, they can arrange for a Forensic Medical Officer (FMO) to examine you. FMOs are doctors from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine who specialise in examining injuries. Community legal centres can also help you find a FMO (see Legal services that can help).
6 Keep a record of your expenses
Keep a record of, and receipts for, any money you spend because of police misconduct (e.g. the cost of pain medication, or an ambulance fee).