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Report Reveals Alarming Rise in Police Misconduct

Police officers
  
   

Dramatic escalation in serious incident notifications and complaints against Victoria Police sparks widespread concern, signaling urgent calls for reform.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) today released its annual overview, revealing a notable increase in complaints and notifications of police misconduct. The report compiles data concerning the misconduct complaints and notifications received throughout the 2023 calendar year, highlighting the commission’s role in monitoring, investigating, reviewing, auditing compliance, and initiating prevention efforts concerning Victoria Police.

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According to the 2023 data, IBAC assessed 4,317 allegations and received 1,914 complaints related to Victoria Police. Furthermore, the agency received 1,709 mandatory notifications from Victoria Police, marking a 13% increase from the previous year, along with 316 serious incident notifications—which include incidents resulting in death or serious injury—up 19% from 2022.

Stephen Farrow, the Deputy Commissioner of IBAC, emphasized the prevalence of police oversight within their operations, stating, “58 per cent of all complaints received by IBAC in 2023 related to Victoria Police.” He added, “This snapshot provides a valuable insight into the vital role IBAC plays in Victoria’s police oversight system and quantifies the significant work involved in overseeing and investigating police misconduct.”

The report detailed the launch of 23 preliminary inquiries and investigations by IBAC in 2023, including seven ‘own motion’ cases initiated independently by the commission based on collected intelligence rather than external complaints. The year also saw the finalisation of 15 preliminary inquiries and investigations, examining issues such as the misuse of connections with police by a former officer and the mishandling of a family violence incident and a vehicle intercept.

IBAC also completed two thematic reviews focusing on internal investigations by Victoria Police, one regarding the use of oleoresin capsicum spray and another concerning family violence incidents involving police personnel.

Throughout the year, IBAC issued 19 new recommendations aimed at strengthening Victoria Police’s policies and procedures to address systemic misconduct and enhance internal investigation processes. Victoria Police has implemented 39 of the previously issued recommendations, including an improved complaint classification system designed to provide clearer guidance for complainants, investigators, and the officers involved.

Deputy Commissioner Farrow concluded, “The investigations, reviews, and recommendations captured in this snapshot demonstrate the breadth of the police misconduct issues IBAC can investigate and oversight, as well as the impact of IBAC’s work to drive reform. We encourage the community and Victoria Police employees to continue to alert us to misconduct and potential corruption. We rely on you to help us hold police accountable.”

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