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What happens after I make complaint with the Authority?

On receipt of your complaint the Authority will make a decision on how best to manage it. This decision is based on the nature of your complaint.  The Authority receives around 2500 complaints each year and priority must be given to the most serious cases.

The Authority will determine the appropriate course of action and decide which of the following categories you complaint falls under:

Category 1 – IPCA independent investigation


There is a category of cases which, in the public interest, need to be independently investigated in order to ensure public confidence in the integrity and objectivity of the investigative process and the outcome.

There are a number of cases that are so serious that they will typically lead to a Category 1 investigation.  These include:
a) cases involving death or serious injury causing or appearing to be caused by Police actions;
b) cases containing elements of corruption or serious criminal misconduct;
c) other cases of deliberate wrongdoing or other serious misconduct that would significantly impact on public trust and confidence in the Police.
A case that meets one of the above criteria will not necessarily be independently investigated if the Authority is satisfied that it has been or is being responded to robustly and expeditiously by the Police (eg by investigation with a view to possible criminal prosecution or disciplinary proceedings against one or more officers).  Conversely, a case that does not meet one of the above criteria may be deemed suitable for a Category 1 investigation if:
d) it raises significant systemic issues;
e) it shows a pattern of significant misconduct by an individual officer;
f) It raises integrity issues in relation to a senior officer or an area, District, or Police generally;
g) a Police investigation on its own is unlikely, in the view of the Authority, to be perceived as having sufficient robustness to attract public credibility; or
h) the Police have indicated that for public interest reasons it is preferable for the Authority rather than the Police to investigate.

Category 2 –Police investigation with active IPCA oversight


Where a case does not meet the criteria for independent investigation, the investigation by the Police should be actively overseen where this is required to assist in ensuring a focus on all relevant issues and a timely outcome.

This category of complaints has one or more of the following characteristics:
a) some initial investigation by Police is required to determine the issues in the case before a final decision can be taken as to whether further investigation by either the Authority or the Police is required;
b) the complaint is sufficiently serious or complex that ongoing dialogue between the Authority and the Police is desirable to facilitate a robust investigation;
c) the significance or public profile of the incident requires active oversight of the investigation by the Authority in order to ensure public confidence in the objectivity and integrity of the outcome;
d) the case involves a complaint against an officer who has a history of misconduct that does not meet the criteria for a Category 1 investigation but is sufficiently serious that ongoing Authority involvement is required to ensure the maintenance of public confidence in the Police.

Category 3 – Significant complaints of substance – Police investigation


Police should take primary responsibility for the investigation and resolution of all complaints that require investigation or review but do not meet the criteria for Category 1 or Category 2. 

This category of complaints has no prescribed characteristics.  It encompasses all matters that do not meet the criteria for disposition without investigation, but do not require either an independent investigation or active ongoing oversight by the Authority.

There is a substantial volume of complaints that do not require any investigation or review by the Authority.  These fall into two categories:

Category 4 – Conciliation


It is important that there be a process to enable Police to accept responsibility for their actions quickly and with the least possible formality, thus avoiding protracted investigation and consequent delay. 

This category of complaints has all the following characteristics:
a) they appear to the Authority to be capable of resolution by mutual agreement between the Police and complainant;
b) they do not have significant systemic or organisational issues or other wider ramifications beyond the incident itself;
c) they indicate the existence of one or more issues underlying the complaint that have been acknowledged by the Police, and can and should be resolved without further investigation; and
d) the Authority and the Police have agreed that the matter should be resolved in this way.
Complaints in this category often include investigative delays, rude or inappropriate comments, lack of respect, and/or inappropriate behaviour or conduct that is relatively minor.

Category 5 – No further action

It is in the interests of both the complainant and Police that matters of no real substance are identified and dismissed at the earliest possible opportunity.

This category of complaints has one or more the following characteristics:
a) they are matters which the Authority considers as minor, frivolous or vexatious;
b) they are matters where there is no support from the person centrally aggrieved;
c) they have been, are about to be or are able to be decided by another tribunal or by the Court;
d) they are matters which disclose no issue requiring investigation;
e) they are matters which relate to an incident of which the complainant has had knowledge for over one year;
f) there is a conflict in the evidence about the issues complained of that are unlikely to be resolved by further investigation

You will be notified in writing of the Authority’s decision on your complaint.

Note: from time to time the Authority may decide to complete an investigation and report based on a particular theme following a series of complaints – eg the recent Custodial Management Report.  In such a case a separate categorisation exercise may be undertaken involving the possibility of a combination of the categories mentioned.



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