Complaints about Victoria Police officers can be made to:
• the station commander of any police station; or
• the Police Conduct Unit of Victoria Police (see “Contacts”); or
• the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (see “Contacts”); or
• the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, or to the Australian Human Rights Commission (see “Contacts”), if the complaint relates to discrimination.
People of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who have a complaint about a Victoria Police officer and want to complain directly to Victoria Police also have the option to contact a Police Aboriginal Liaison Officer (see “Contacts”).
It is appropriate to lodge minor complaints (e.g. a police officer was rude) at the police station that is nearest to where the incident occurred. Complaints can be made to the police officer in charge of the station (usually a senior sergeant). The police officer should write down the details of your complaint.
Complaints about misconduct by Victoria Police officers should be made to either the Police Conduct Unit (PCU) of Victoria Police, or to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) (see “Contacts”). Lawyers working in this area usually advise their clients to complain to the PCU and not to IBAC, for the following reasons.
Even though IBAC has the power to investigate police misconduct, in reality, IBAC refers the majority of complaints about police misconduct to the Victoria Police for investigation. This includes serious complaints (e.g. assault).
If you lodge a complaint with Victoria Police (either through PCU or at a police station), you can access documents about the investigation using the freedom of information process (see Freedom of information law). However, if you lodge a complaint with IBAC, you may be unable to access these documents through freedom of information, even if IBAC refers your complaint to Victoria Police, and a police officer investigates your complaint. The Victorian Parliament recently tried to change the law to make it easier to access complaint documents, but it is not yet clear whether this change has been effective.
Complaints about Victoria Police officers that involve racism or other forms of discrimination can be made to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC), or to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (see “Contacts”).
In general, a complaint should be made to the VEOHRC when you are alleging that discrimination occurred by police officer(s) failing to act when you were the victim of a crime.
A complaint should be made to the AHRC when you are alleging that discrimination occurred when police officer(s) dealt with you as a suspect.
Note that complaints to either the VEOHRC or to the AHRC do not ordinarily lead to disciplinary action or criminal charges against the relevant police officer(s). Complaints may lead to changes in Victoria Police policy and practices and/or compensation. For more information, see Discrimination and human rights.