The Victorian Law Handbook banner


Bookmark and Share Fitzroy Legal Service facebook link Fitzroy Legal Service Twitter link

Types of complaint

There are many different kinds of complaints, some extremely serious, others not so serious, arising out of irritating conduct by police. 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.

Police demeanour and inaction

It is possible for minor complaints of rudeness or failing to answer a call for assistance to be made to officers at the police station where the problem arose. Such complaints can be made to the officer in charge of the police station, usually a sergeant or senior sergeant. Alternatively, you could complain at another police station in the same police district or to the Professional Standards Command of Victoria Police (PSC).

You have a right to speak to the duty inspector, who is always on call. The police member taking your complaint should note, or be requested to note, in writing, the details of your complaint. The resolution of these kinds of complaints generally involves conciliation rather than investigation.

For the most part, IBAC has a minimal role regarding these complaints.


Complaints involving issues of racism or other forms of discrimination should be made to IBAC, as well as either the state or federal Human Rights Commissions.

While it depends on the specific terms in the discrimination legislation, in general, the Australian Human Rights Commission should be used where the discrimination arises in a context where the police have treated you as the suspect of an offence. The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission can be used when you are alleging discrimination arising out of police failing to act where you are the victim of a crime.

It is worth noting that complaints to Human Rights Commissions will not ordinarily lead to disciplinary or criminal sanctions against police, but may lead to systemic policy and practice changes and/or compensation. See Chapter 17: Discrimination, for further information and Commission contact details.

Procedural and other failings

Complaints about police failing to follow procedures or legal requirements are most frequently made to the duty officer of the police district concerned. One of the functions of the district duty officer is to take such complaints and to make preliminary inquiries into them. Your choice should depend upon the seriousness of the police failure and whether you believe that it necessitates a substantial policy examination of this kind of police procedure. If it does, lodging your complaint with IBAC makes good sense.

Serious allegations

If you decide to lodge a complaint relating to serious police misconduct, such as assault or theft of property, you should complain to IBAC. (See Contacts, below, for details of where to lodge your complaint.) IBAC prefer that complaints are made in writing. If attending the IBAC office in person, call first to make an appointment.

Alternatively, you can make a complaint to the Police Victoria PSC. See Contacts, at end of chapter for details.

Types of complaint :: Last updated: Sun Jun 30th 2013