The fatal shooting of a man last night in Windsor by a Victoria Police officer highlights the need for independent investigations into police-related deaths.
The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Advocacy and Strategic Litigation, Anna Brown, said that the current practice of police investigating themselves undermined public confidence in police and breached international human rights guarantees.
“It’s vital that the investigation of this shooting be genuinely independent. Under current practice, Victoria Police officers will conduct the primary investigation including gathering forensic evidence, interviewing witnesses and then preparing the evidence brief for the Coroner. This is completely inappropriate.
“Media commentary by Victoria Police command that the shooting was in self-defence demonstrates how inappropriate this situation is. These comments pre-judge the outcome of the investigation and underscore the lack of independence.
“Police should not investigate themselves in situations like this. There are numerous examples from around Australia of cases where police investigations into fatal police shootings and other deaths in custody have been found to be flawed.
“The process for determining what occurred in police fatalities must be effective and independent. This is critical for families of the deceased and for public confidence. It’s also critical for police. If the officer involved in this shooting did act in self defence, it’s in his interest that this be determined by a credible, effective and independent process.
“Victoria needs an independent body to investigate police related deaths. Bodies that perform this role have been set up in Northern Ireland, England and Wales, Ontario and New Zealand. Setting up a similar body in Victoria would not only be the common sense approach, it would also be consistent with international human rights law. International human rights law requires that there must be an independent, effective investigation of police-related deaths,” Ms Brown said.
For further comments contact Anna Brown on 0422 235 522 or firstname.lastname@example.org