You can make your complaint orally or in writing. If in writing, the complaint can be in the form of a letter, or a statement, or you can fill in a complaint form (the Victoria Police and IBAC have complaint forms on their websites; see ‘Contacts’ at the end of this chapter). If you make the complaint orally, the police or IBAC officer who listens to your complaint A document that sets out what a person wants to happen to their money and other property after they die. put the substance of your complaint into a written statement.
Along with your complaint, you should submit any Material presented to a court to prove or disprove a fact. It can include what witnesses say as well as documents and other objects. you have collected to support your allegations (see ‘Collecting evidence’, above).
You need to be especially careful when making a complaint in writing that all the details are absolutely correct, particularly if you swear that it is a true statement. You can render yourself liable to the A criminal act prohibited by state or commonwealth criminal law. An offence is either a summary offence (minor) or an indictable offence (serious). of The criminal offence of lying under oath, when questioned in court or making a sworn statement. See also affirmation; oath. if you make significant mistakes in the statement, or if you contradict yourself in other statements made earlier or later.
If a police officer or IBAC officer writes a statement based on your oral complaint, do not allow the written statement to depart from your oral account. If necessary, ask the police or IBAC officer to alter the statement, even if this is inconvenient. It is very important to get your statement right. You can be cross-examined on your statement if you give evidence in related criminal or civil proceedings.
If you complain in writing, make sure you keep a copy of the complaint.
There is an online chatbot that can assist you to draft your complaint. This chatbot is free to use and was developed by Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre and Robinson Gill Lawyers. To access this chatbot, visit www.policecomplaints.com.au.
Complaining when in or leaving police custody
You can make a complaint at any time while you are at a police station (whether you are there voluntarily or not) or in police Lawful control over a person which prevents them leaving. A person under arrest is in police custody and is not free to go. A person in prison is serving a custodial sentence that keeps them confined to the prison grounds.. The police officer in (1) A statement giving the details of a crime an accused person is claimed to have committed. (2) A personal property security. (3) A judge’s directions to a jury at the end of a case. of the station (usually a senior sergeant) is required to take note of the complaint or refer it to an inspector.
Before anyone is released from a police station (after they have been questioned or charged), they are usually asked whether they have any complaint about the quality of treatment they received while in police custody. Those who do have a complaint about their treatment are asked to provide more details, or to wait for an inspector to come to the station.
Many people who have a complaint say they have no complaint because they are keen to leave the police station, or because they are scared of complaining to the immediate superior of the police officer they are complaining about, or they do not want to make a complaint to the very person about whom they have a grievance. However, if you do not complain at the police station, your How believable a witness is in court when they claim to be telling the truth. See also independent witness; interested witness. may be challenged when you make a complaint later.
One option is to tell the police officer at the police station that you do have a complaint, but you intend to lodge your complaint after being released and after obtaining legal advice. This is a good response even if you are not sure that you will lodge a complaint: you are not committed to any course of action, but if you decide to complain later, you have indicated your intention early on.
Another option is to refrain from answering the question about whether or not you have a complaint about the quality of treatment you received while in police custody. Legally, you are under no obligation to answer this question (or to sign the attendance register at the police station). A police officer cannot detain you for declining to answer this question or for not signing the attendance register.
Supporting your complaint with freedom of information documents
If you chose to delay lodging your complaint, you can support your complaint with documents obtained from the police through a The right of any person to access documents held by government agencies, except documents excluded by legislation. (FoI) request. The process for making a FoI request is set out in Chapter 12.5: Freedom of information law. Which documents you request through FoI depend on the nature of your complaint. The types of documents you can request include:
- use of force forms;
- police diary notes, patrol duty return sheets, and initial action pads;
- briefs of evidence;
- charge sheets;
- CCTV and audio recordings from police body worn cameras, divisional vans, police cells, and police station charge counters;
- LEAP incident reports;
- custody modules.
Your letter requesting documents under freedom of information should be addressed to the Victoria Police – Freedom of Information Office (see ‘Contacts’ at the end of this chapter).