Victoria must independently investigate serious complaints of police misconduct

Disturbing footage and stories of police brutality, coming from the joint investigation by the Age and ABC, highlights the need for independent investigation of police misconduct complaints.

Many young people experience significant mistreatment by police and yet they are reluctant to make a complaint, said Ariel Couchman today, Director of Youthlaw, a state-wide legal centre for young people under 25.

“Youthlaw regularly hears of unacceptable abuse by police such as physical assaults, degradation, prejudicial comments to degrade and control, and inappropriate and intrusive policing.“ she said.

“The abuse they experience is disturbing, yet overwhelmingly young people are unaware that they can make a complaint.  However, once they receive information of the current complaint system they are extremely reluctant want to make a complaint.   In general they have no confidence their complaint will be taken seriously,” Ms Couchman said.

“They fear consequences of complaining about police officers given how much power they have over their daily lives.”

“In Youthlaw lawyer’s experience young people rarely exaggerate the abuse or seek to complain for vexatious or flippant reasons.  Most believe it is just a fact of life that they will be treated this way and there is little that they can do about it”.

The current system where a police force investigates police complaints, particularly those of a serious nature, is inevitably highly flawed and lacks integrity.

Like many other community lawyers, Youthlaw also calls on the Andrews Government to reform Victoria’s failing police complaints system and ensure that IBAC or another independent body investigates all serious complaints of police misconduct.

“The IBAC Parliamentary Committee currently conducting an inquiry into this issue has a critical opportunity to make essential recommendations of this nature.” Ms Couchman said.

For comment and interviews, contact:

Tiffany Overall | Advocacy and Human Rights Officer, Youthlaw |
04oo 90303 |