Federal Senator calls for independent investigation of police in Victoria

Senator Marshall (speech 30 Sept 2014) is spot on. Speaking about the recent apology and compensation from Victoria Police to a victim of police mistreatment ( Corinna Horvath) he said:

Incidents like those experienced by Corinna Horvath are still occurring and before the courts. The state government should establish an independent body to investigate police misconduct complaints and a system for victims to access compensation for violations of human rights perpetrated by police personnel.

The Independent Broad Based Anti-corruption Commission, or IBAC, is presently the body responsible for investigating police complaints. IBAC itself in April this year asked the parliament of Victoria to increase its powers. In its report tabled in parliament it specifically asked for ‘the extent to which IBAC must be reasonably satisfied before investigating complaints’ to be reviewed. And IBAC is also seeking ‘the ability of IBAC to conduct preliminary enquiries or investigations’.

73 % of IBAC’s complaints are police related matters. In total around 3,500 complaints have been made against police to IBAC—a significant number of complaints. IBAC has a limited budget with fewer than 30 investigators. Their current role appears to merely log complaints and pass them onto the police internal department for review. In many cases these reviews are then forwarded to the same police station or region from where the police come from. This process is failing our state.

The coalition government in Victoria recently presented legislation to parliament to strengthen IBAC, which is unlikely to be passed before the next election and, in my opinion, does not go far enough. Victoria needs reforms of IBAC so it can independently investigate complaints against police and have the power to charge and prosecute their misconduct. Under its current powers, IBAC cannot even make a binding recommendation to the Victorian police force. Police can just ignore IBAC. An alternative to IBAC would be a separate, independent body to deal with police complaints.

But what should be obvious to all is that police cannot investigate police, if we expect proper justice”.

See his full speech