This audit examines how well Victoria Police’s Professional Standards Command (PSC) manages complaints by reviewing a sample of investigations it completed during 2015/16. PSC is the central area responsible for Victoria Police’s ethical health and integrity and investigates serious complaints about police.
The complaint investigations the audit considered included allegations against police of assault, improper criminal associations, using or possessing drugs, committing sexual offences, handling stolen goods, making threats to kill, interfering in investigations and misusing information.
The IBAC audit was conducted last year and examined how PSC investigated a range of complaints about Victoria Police officers that were finalised in 2015/16. IBAC audited 59 out of 221 investigations completed, selecting those that concerned the more serious complaints, and assessed whether PSC’s investigations were thorough and impartial, and met the standards required for handling such serious allegations.
Issues identified in the audit report include:
Poor management of conflicts of interest: 95 per cent of files audited did not explicitly address actual, perceived or potential conflicts of interest between PSC investigators and the police officers they were investigating.
Probity concerns: The audit identified some PSC investigators had complaint histories that raised issues of concern and could adversely affect community confidence in the outcome of investigations.
Failure to consistently consult with the Office of Public Prosecutions: Concerns were identified about Victoria Police not consistently consulting the Office of Public Prosecutions despite establishing a reasonable belief that a reportable offence had been committed.
Inadequate action: IBAC’s auditors disagreed with the action recommended in 15 per cent of files, including two matters where discipline charges were downgraded.
Inappropriate file classification: Concern with how some investigations were classified, with most of the sample being classified as a ‘preliminary inquiry’, even when the matter involved allegations of criminality or corruption. The audit found the approach adopted by PSC means the preliminary inquiry classification is being used well beyond its stated purpose.