The Authority categorises complaints by assessing them across a range of factors, including the level of seriousness and the most appropriate means of resolving the matter.
Generally speaking, we will independently investigate the most serious complaints and incidents, while other matters will be referred to Police for investigation or resolution under the Authority’s oversight. There are also cases that, for a variety of reasons, do not require further action.
There are four categories of complaint.
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 A investigation. These include:
a) cases involving death or serious injury caused 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 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 Police (e.g. 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 A investigation if:
a) it raises one or more significant systemic issues;
b) it shows a pattern of significant misconduct by an individual officer;
c) it raises integrity issues in relation to a senior officer or an area, District, or Police generally;
d) a Police investigation on its own is unlikely, in the view of the Authority, to be perceived by the public as being sufficiently robust; or
e) Police have indicated, or the Authority determines, that for public interest reasons it is preferable for the Authority rather than Police to investigate.
Where a case requires investigation or employment process before the appropriate resolution can be determined, but does not meet the criteria for independent investigation, it will be referred to the Police for investigation or action with active IPCA oversight.
This may sometimes comprise a limited factual inquiry by the Police (e.g. a phone call to the complainant or a witness to clarify a factual matter) so that it can be determined whether the case is suitable for alternative resolution.
The concluded Police investigation and actions are subject to a full, independent review to confirm that all complaint issues have been addressed and that the outcomes achieved are in accordance with the weight of evidence. The Authority makes its own findings and reports these to the Commissioner and, where applicable, the complainant.
Where the complainant has a reasonable grievance to be addressed and the issues are clear, the case should be resolved by appropriate action and redress as soon as practicable.
This category of complaints has the following characteristics:
a) the issues raised by the complaint are clear;
b) there does not need to be a substantial investigation to determine the facts;
c) there is no need for a criminal or employment investigation into the actions of the officers complained about;
d) some redress or other action to resolve the issues raised by the complaint is practicable.
Complaints in this category can range from the serious to the relatively minor. Their distinguishing feature is that they can be resolved quickly, efficiently and effectively. This means that complainants can receive timely redress, and that appropriate lessons can be learned by individual officers or Police as an organisation soon after the event.
Before a case with these characteristics are categorised, there will be a discussion with the District Professional Conduct Manager (and, if necessary, Police Professional Conduct at Police National Head Quarters) to discuss and agree on the appropriate actions and a timeframe within which they are to be undertaken. If no such agreement is reached, the case will not be made a Category C.
It is in the interests of both the complainant and Police that matters which require no further action for one or more of the reasons set out in s 18 of the IPCA Act are identified and concluded at the earliest possible opportunity. This decision will only be made after appropriate research, collation and analysis of available information relating to the complaint has been undertaken.
This category of complaint has one or more of the following characteristics:
a) matters which the Authority considers as minor, frivolous or vexatious;
b) matters where there is no support from the person centrally aggrieved;
c) have been, are about to be or are able to be, decided by another tribunal or by the Court;
d) matters which disclose no issue requiring investigation;
e) matters which relate to an incident of which the complainant has had knowledge for over one year;
f) a conflict in the evidence about the issues complained of that is unlikely to be resolved by further investigation.