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.

Contributors

Jeremy King

Principal Lawyer, Robinson Gill Lawyers

Nick Boag

Solicitor, Robinson Gill Lawyers

Outcome of a complaint against Victoria Police

Last updated

1 July 2021

Understanding the letter about the decision

At the conclusion of the investigation you will receive a letter stating the outcome of the investigation. The letter usually includes little information about why the decision was made. In the letter, one of the terms in the table below will be used to describe the outcome of the investigation.

DecisionMeaning
SubstantiatedThe evidence supports the complaint; therefore, the complaint is considered to be true.
Not substantiatedThe evidence supports the police officer’s version of events.
Unable to determineThe investigator is unable to determine whether or not the complaint is true based on the available evidence.
Not proceeded withThe complainant was unwilling to supply information but has not withdrawn the complaint.
WithdrawnThe complainant withdrew the complaint.
No complaint (sanctioned by law)The conduct complained about is permitted by law.
No complaint (denied by alleged victim)A third party lodged the complaint and the victim denies the allegation.
UnfoundedThe available evidence establishes there is no ground for the complaint.
ExoneratedThe available evidence establishes that the police officer was not involved or is completely free from blame.
Lesser deficiencyA fault or issue has come to the investigator’s attention but was not part of the original complaint (e.g. incomplete paperwork).
False reportThere is evidence that the complainant made a false report.
Outcomes of an investigation into police misconduct

If your complaint is substantiated – or if the investigation uncovers matters not raised by the complainant that indicate impropriety on the part of the police officer – the police decide whether or not to discipline, caution or counsel the police officer.

Getting more information about the investigation

If your initial complaint was lodged with the PSC (and not IBAC), you can access documents about the investigation of your complaint through the freedom of information process (see ‘Where to complain: Misconduct complaints’, above, for an explanation about why you may not get access to documents if your initial complaint was made to IBAC). The freedom of information process is outlined in Chapter 12.5: Freedom of information law, and in ‘Supporting your complaint with freedom of information documents’, above. In your freedom of information application, ask for copies of all documents relating to the initial incident, and for a copy of the PSC file about your complaint.

Review of the decision

If you are unhappy with a decision made by the PSC, you can ask IBAC to review the decision. If you are unhappy with a decision made by IBAC, you can request an internal review of the decision. An IBAC officer who is independent of the original decision-maker will conduct the internal review.

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