Advantages of lodging a complaint
While people who lodge complaints about police officers’ misconduct are often dissatisfied with the complaints process, there are important reasons to lodge a complaint.
First, if your complaint is substantiated, then the police officers involved in the incident can be disciplined and even charged with criminal offences. Your complaint A document that sets out what a person wants to happen to their money and other property after they die. be included on the police officer’s professional file, which is taken into account if that police officer is considered for a promotion.
Second, documents produced as a result of your complaint (e.g. interviews with the police officer) may assist a future criminal or civil case.
In some instances, IBAC may prosecute the police officers involved in the incident. There have been several recent examples of IBAC doing this. Be aware that IBAC can investigate and prosecute a matter even when a complaint has not been directly lodged with them. For example, IBAC may become aware of a matter through the media and chose to investigate it.
Third, it is important that police oversight authorities, such as the PSC and IBAC, are aware when police misconduct occurs so they are alerted to patterns and systemic issues. This allows police officers who repeatedly engage in misconduct to be identified internally. When a complaint is lodged with the PSC against a police officer, the complaint is recorded on Victoria Police’s Register of Complaints and Serious Incidents Database. If systemic issues are recognised, then changes and policies can be implemented to address the issues and stop misconduct (for example) reoccurring in the future. IBAC regularly audits aspects of policing and frequently cites complaint statistics and information received from complaints in these audits; these audits are reviewed by the Victorian Government.
Difficulties of lodging a complaint
There can be drawbacks to lodging a complaint about a police officer. For some complainants, it can be a confronting and dissatisfying experience. Your complaint will most likely be investigated by another police officer. Making statements to the police officer who is investigating your complaint can be stressful. In rural areas and some suburbs, it can be uncomfortable and intimidating to be in close proximity to the police officer(s) you are complaining about.
There are several possible outcomes to a police complaint investigation. However, only a small number of complaints about police misconduct are substantiated (i.e. proven to be true). In some situations, the conduct of the A person who begins a criminal prosecution against another in the Magistrates’ Court, or formally starts an action in a court or tribunal or makes a complaint to a complaint-handling body. In a civil action they could also be referred to as a plaintiff or an applicant. during the incident(s) being investigated – rather than the behaviour of the relevant police officer – becomes the focus of the investigation. While this does not occur in all police investigations of misconduct, it is often the case that the favoured perspective is that of the police officer who is the subject of the complaint.
The fact that few investigations about Victorian police officers are conducted independently of Victoria Police plays a role in the low Providing proof of a claim, for example that an expense was incurred (where producing a receipt substantiates the claim). rates of complaints about police officer(s).
If charges are laid against you that are related to the incident you are complaining about, it may be better to delay making the complaint (see ‘Lodging a complaint when charges are laid or anticipated’, below). In these circumstances, get legal advice before lodging a complaint (see Chapter 2.4: Legal services that can help).
Also, proving that your allegations are true can be difficult. This is because complaints often arise from incidents in police interview rooms, in police cells, during police raids, and during arrests. Often in these situations, there are no independent or reliable witnesses. Also, people who may have witnessed the incident(s) may be unable or unwilling to give Material presented to a court to prove or disprove a fact. It can include what witnesses say as well as documents and other objects. to support your claim; for example, witnesses may fear Saying something that might be used against you in court. The privilege against self-incrimination is the right, with certain limitations, not to do or say any-thing that might later be used as evidence against you., may be traumatised, have memory loss, or have a physical or mental illness.
Sometimes the police officer(s) will admit the allegations are true, but will claim that their actions were justified; for example, that it was necessary to use force against the complainant because the complainant assaulted them or resisted To seize a person suspected of breaking the law and hold them in custody. Police have powers to arrest and charge suspected offenders and bring them before a court..
Also, as police officers usually work in pairs (and often in larger groups), it is typical for more than one police officer to provide a sworn statement, or to give evidence in An independent body that hears legal claims brought by parties and decides between them. Serious cases are heard by a judge and jury, or just a judge. Less-serious cases are heard by a magistrate., about an incident. It is rare for police officers to give evidence against other police officers in the context or a complaint by a citizen. Thus, what other police officers say may be contrary to the version of events put forward by the complainant. Note that police officers are accustomed to giving evidence and responding to questions in court; whereas you may not be.
Almost certainly, the police will have written records about what happened between you and them, especially if the incident resulted in you being charged with a criminal A criminal act prohibited by state or commonwealth criminal law. An offence is either a summary offence (minor) or an indictable offence (serious)..