Launch of Police Complaints Clinic Report

When Police Investigate themselves…

Victoria Police found that it was acceptable for a 15-year-old child to be pushed to the ground and grabbed around the neck in circumstances where was not charged with (or reasonably suspected of committing) any offence.

Police who had investigated the young person’s complaint decided that the level of force that was used against the child was an acceptable part of the investigation process.

We believe that an independent investigation would have come to a very different conclusion.

Report launched

The Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre has released its first report on the Police Accountability and Human Rights Clinic’s first year of operations.

The report is available for download here(PDF)

Victoria’s first statewide Police Complaints Advice Clinic provides advice, referral, support and casework to victims of police misconduct and greatly expand capacity to meet this high identified legal need.

In partnership with the Public Interest Law Initiative of Melbourne Law School and using a premier model of clinical legal education, the Clinic sees victims of police misconduct from across Victoria and provides much needed access to justice and seeks to enhance human rights and accountability outcomes.

A primary aim of the clinic is to collate and analyse statewide client data, utilise case studies, client stories and key cases for strategic systemic advocacy and law reform for police accountability and human rights.

Concerns Raised

This 20-page report raises a number of concerns with the way complaints are currently investigated in Victoria in contrast to our international obligations to effectively, transparently, promptly and independently investigate complaints regarding human rights abuses.

Concerns with Victoria Police centre around investigative and decision-maker bias. In our view the low substantiation rate (2%) is a clear indicator of this . On the basis of the material available to us, we disagree
with the outcomes of numerous complaint decisions.

Concerns with the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (“IBAC”) include a lack of transparency about the allegations IBAC investigates, its failure to provide reasons to complainants about decisions, its secrecy about investigative information and its almost universal failure to investigate allegations made to it. IBAC’s failure to provide natural justice to complainants is contrary to law.

Each of the concerns raised by the report points to the lack of concern IBAC has with international human rights obligations. But they also indicate its failure to grapple with its obligations under ss10 and 38 of the Charter.

 

Acknowledgements

We wish to thank our staff, the 17 students who worked at the clinic over this reporting period and our key partners in the project.

 Hard copies available

Additional hard copies of this report are available upon request by calling 03 3376 4355 or fklegal@fkclc.org.au.

Further information is available online at www.policeaccountability.org.au/police-complaints/police-complaints-advice-clinic/

PCC Report 2015 Cover

Media:

Victoria’s corruption watchdog recommends major changes to the way complaints are handled against officers, Hamish Fitzsimmons, ABC Lateline, 15 September, 2016

VIDEO and Transcript:  Twenty years ago, police turned up at Corinna Horvath’s home over an unregistered car. They kicked in her door and she was beaten up. 

Key Findings:

1. Of the 51 allegations filed through the clinic as complaints with Victoria Police during 2015, only 1 was substantiated. This is a 2% substantiation rate.

2. The most frequent allegation made was excessive force.

3. Complainants came to the clinic from around the State with the highest concentration in the inner-west.

4. There continue to be allegations of racially biased policing despite Victoria Police’s zero
tolerance towards racial profiling.

5. There is a far higher demand for our service than we can provide.

We were able to provide ongoing casework for 67 people. 55 people seeking criminal defence work for matters linked to their police complaint were turned away. 112 people seeking ongoing casework assistance were turned away

 

The full report with case studies is available here (PDF).

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