Systemic racism in Victoria Police impacts Aboriginal communities on a daily basis and manifests itself in the way that Aboriginal people are over-policed, over-represented in police custody and under-served when they need assistance from police. Addressing these deep-seated problems requires an effective system of police oversight, which prevents misconduct from occurring and holds police to account when it does take place. Victoria’s police oversight system falls drastically short of achieving these goals.  

In 2020-2021, 94.3% of complaints against police were investigated by Victoria Police themselves, or not investigated at all. Police investigating themselves will never deliver real accountability. Aboriginal people have no faith in the police complaints system – despite facing higher rates of police misconduct, Aboriginal people are less likely to make a complaint. They know the system is broken.

Read the open letter on Police Accountability to Police Minister Lisa Neville, signed by VALS and thirteen other legal services.

A fully functioning police oversight system requires:

  • A new independent police complaints body that
    provides thorough, culturally appropriate and independent investigation
    of all complaints, other than customer service matters;
  • Independent and culturally appropriate investigation of police contact deaths, both for coronial processes and in determining if a criminal or disciplinary offence has been committed;
  • Independent monitoring and auditing of the exercise of police powers, supported by transparent record-keeping and reporting by Victoria Police;
  • Independent oversight of police places of detention, in compliance with OPCAT;
  • Accountability for implementing recommendations
    relating to police, from coronial inquests, police complaints
    investigations, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody
    (RCIADIC), and other commissions and inquiries.
What next?

Read VALS’ Police Accountability Policy Brief and Police Accountability Policy Paper, and listen to our webinar, Who Polices the Police?.