Although the Police Regulation Act 1958 (Vic) gives the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police the ultimate responsibility for investigating police members and taking disciplinary action, on a day to day basis this is undertaken by the Victoria Police Ethical Standards Department (ESD) via the Assistant Commissioner (Ethical Standards).
ESD is a unit within Victoria Police, which investigates internal and external complaints made about police members. ESD has the power to compel members to make statements about their actions, to investigate the incident by taking witness statements and obtaining other evidence and ultimately, if the allegations are found proven, to recommend disciplinary charges or some other procedure be instituted against the police officer.
The Victoria Police force has an internal disciplinary hearing procedure. The hearing of a disciplinary charge is not open to the public. A complainant is also not represented at the hearing.
The penalties which may be imposed on a police officer who has a complaint against him/her proven depend on the seriousness of the unlawful incident/s giving rise to the charge. The penalty may be a fine, a demotion, a reprimand, an admonishment or dismissal.
In the experience of many activists and progressive lawyers who have made or overseen complaints to ESD, it is rare and infrequent for complaints to be substantiated by ESD and disciplinary charges pursued following a complaint made by the public. There have been many reasons suggested about why this is so, the most common being that police investigating police does not ensure independence or accountability in the investigation process.
Management Intervention Model - Victoria Police has also established a new system for handling service delivery and performance management of complaints made by the public. The management intervention model is managed by the Assistant Commissioner (Ethical Standards), and is intended for minor complaints, such as rude and unsatisfactory behaviour of members. It is not meant to replace the ESD system for investigating substantive allegations of corruption or police misbehaviour. Options for resolution can include meetings between the aggrieved complainant and police member as well as the issuing of admonishment notices to members for minor breaches of discipline.
A complaint to IBAC about Victorian public sector corrupt conduct or police personnel misconduct must be in writing, unless it is determined by IBAC that there are exceptional circumstances as to why it is unable to be provided in this form.Victorian public sector bodies include government departments and statutory authorities (including Victoria Police), local councils, schools and universities, public hospitals, Members of Parliament, judges and magistrates.