Royal Commission into Victoria Police scandal welcome, but lawyers and experts call for immediate police accountability reforms

Royal Commission into Victoria Police scandal welcome, but lawyers and experts call for immediate police accountability reforms

Lawyers and advocates from across Victoria have welcomed the Andrews Government announcement of a Royal Commission into police misconduct, but say the Andrews Government should immediately establish an independent Police Corruption & Misconduct Division within IBAC.

The High Court of Australia today ruled that:

“Victoria Police were guilty of reprehensible conduct...and were involved in sanctioning atrocious breaches of the sworn duty of every police officer to discharge all duties imposed on them faithfully and according to law..."

“The Government’s announcement today does not diminish its responsibility to act immediately to implement the recommendations of the IBAC Committee report to establish an independent police complaints unit within IBAC,” said  Anthony Kelly from the Police Accountability Project. “Implementation should happen now before the Commission gets underway.”

In welcoming the Royal Commission, Jeremy King, Principal Lawyer with Robinson Gill lawyers, emphasised that Victorians deserve a police force they can trust.

“The highest court of Australia has described the actions of Victoria Police as ‘reprehensible’. More than ever, Victoria needs strong police accountability mechanisms. This Government should not delay implementing the Parliamentary Committee’s recommendations to overhaul the police accountability system. IBAC must be strengthened and properly resourced in order to prevent police misconduct of this scale from happening again,” said Jeremy King, Principal Lawyer of Robinson Gill.

“In light of these High Court findings regarding the Gangland legal scandal,  the need for just this sort or empowered independent investigative body becomes even more clear,” says Mr Kelly. “Cabinet must act to implement this new division of IBAC immediately.”

In September this year the Victorian Parliament published the  joint parliamentary report from a two year inquiry into the investigation and oversight of police misconduct and corruption, which  found serious problems with the existing internal investigative model.

The report made 69 detailed recommendations to strengthen Victoria’s police accountability system and address systemic misconduct and cultural issues within Victoria Police. This included creating a Police Corruption & Misconduct Division within IBAC.

Ruth Barson, a Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said that it is in the public interest to to have an independent investigative body so that police are not investigating police.

“This case touches the highest levels of Victoria Police. While this is an extreme case it’s not an isolated example of police misconduct. To ensure we have a police force we can trust and have confidence in, Premier Andrews must commit to a root and branch Royal Commission investigation, and to resourcing IBAC to independently and thoroughly investigate allegations of police misconduct,” said Ms Barson.

For interviews:

Jeremy King -  Principal Lawyer, Robinson Gill (03) 9890 3321

Anthony Kelly - Police Accountability Project (Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre) (03) 9376 43 55

Ruth Barson - contact Michelle Bennett, Human Rights Law Centre: 0419 100 519

The IBACC committee report can be found here

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