Complaints may relate to police misconduct, corruption, discrimination, or to administrative matters such as freedom of information. Complaints can be oral or in writing and must be supported with carefully recorded evidence. Complaints are investigated by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) or by the police. Whether or not to make a complaint, and when, should be carefully considered. Legal advice should be sought before making a complaint, especially if charges are pending or when pressing charges or suing police for damages.


Jeremy King

Principal Lawyer, Robinson Gill Lawyers

Nick Boag

Solicitor, Robinson Gill Lawyers

Criminal charges against the police

A variety of criminal actions can be taken against police officers. Police informants usually initiate criminal actions. Private citizens can institute summary criminal actions; this is known as private prosecution. The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission can also initiate criminal prosecutions against police officers.

Serious charges will not progress beyond the committal stage unless the Director of Public Prosecutions is prepared to take on the case. Criminal prosecutions against police officers, or anyone else, need to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

If you bring a charge against a police officer and are unsuccessful, you will probably have to pay the police officer’s legal costs. Costs can be substantial, so think carefully before embarking on such an action.

You should seek legal advice before initiating private prosecution (see Chapter 2.4: Legal services that can help).

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