Victorian Law Week is all about helping Victorians understand their rights, find answers to their questions, know what help is available and how our legal system works.
This Law Week webinar explores IBAC's role in police oversight, outlining what IBAC can investigate and providing an overview of our work in 2022. It also explains how to report police misconduct and includes a question and answer session.
Host: Peter Morris, Executive Director, Operations
Presenter: Kylie Kilgour, Deputy Commissioner
Presenter: Emily Scott, Acting Manager Investigations
Watch the recording:
Please note: Auslan translation was delayed, starting ~8 minutes into the webinar. We apologise for any inconvenience.
Good evening and welcome to IBAC's law week webinar, ‘Who oversees the integrity of Victoria police?’ My name is Peter Morris. I'm the Executive Director of Operations here at IBAC. I joined IBAC in October 2021 after 30 years plus of delivering investigation services in a range of professional services firms and also the Australian Federal Police. Today, we are joined by Deputy Commissioner Kylie Kilgour, who holds the Victoria Police portfolio, and Emily Scott, acting manager of investigations. Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands we are conducting this webinar on today. I acknowledge the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which our office is located and pay respect to the Elders past and present. I also respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waterways across Victoria and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging. Tonight we will discuss IBAC and its jurisdiction, IBAC's police oversight role, an overview of police oversight work completed by IBAC in 2021-22, what IBAC can investigate, the life cycle of a complaint and how to report police misconduct.
This will be followed by a question and answer session. A recording of the webinar will be made available on the IBAC website in the coming weeks. If you would like to turn on live transcription, you can do so by clicking on closed caption and then live transcript in the meeting controls at the bottom of your desktop, then select show subtitle. If you're on a mobile phone, you can turn captions on in the Zoom app. Go to settings, tap meeting and turn on closed captions. There will be an opportunity for you to ask questions during the audience Q&A session in the second half of this webinar. And I encourage you to submit any comments and questions you have throughout today's event by using the Q&A function, which you will see at the bottom of your screen. Please be aware that we are not able to answer questions about ongoing investigations or specific complaints. If you experience any technical difficulties, please ensure you have downloaded the latest version of Zoom. And we did receive several relevant questions from viewers during their registration process.
And I would now like to hand over to our first speaker, Deputy Commissioner Kylie Kilgour. And Kylie, I have one of those viewer questions for you to start with, and that question is what role does education and training play in IBAC's police oversight work?
Thanks very much, Peter. Hello, everyone, and a Happy Law Week 2023 to all of you. I've been a deputy commissioner at IBAC since January 2021. And for the two years prior to that, I was the CEO of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, also known as the Lawyer ‘Lawyer X’ Royal Commission. I've also been a lawyer in community legal centres in New South Wales, Legal Aid in the UK and a public servant in the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety. I'll begin by outlining who we are and what we do, and then I will address the question from the viewer. And so firstly, IBAC is Victoria's Anti-Corruption Commission. Our vision is to build a corruption-resistant Victoria. Our purpose is to prevent and expose public sector corruption and police misconduct, and our functions are to investigate and expose serious or systemic corrupt conduct and police misconduct, to educate the public sector and community about the impacts of corruption and misconduct, and build public sector capacity to prevent it from occurring.
We are independent of government and we are accountable to the people of Victoria through the Victorian Parliament. Our Acting Commissioner is Stephen Farrow. He is an independent officer of the Parliament and is responsible for the strategic leadership of IBAC. IBAC has around 230 staff from a diverse range of backgrounds such as investigations, law, forensic accounting, information technology, education and administration. Our jurisdiction extends across the whole of the Victorian public sector, including members of Parliament, the judiciary, police and state and local government. So, this adds up to around 340,000 Victorian public sector employees in around 3,500 organisations, including 21,000 police officers and employees. So, one of our key roles is being the independent oversight body for Victoria Police. And some of the ways we do this include by assessing complaints and notifications about public sector corruption and police misconduct, conducting investigations about serious and systemic police misconduct, reviewing investigations of matters we have referred to Victoria Police to ensure those investigations were done properly.
We provide training to Victoria Police officers and we check that police comply with laws such as sex offender registration, witness protection, DNA sampling and firearm prohibition orders. We also are able to make recommendations to change laws and Victoria Police's policies and practices. IBAC has a five-year strategic plan which you can find on the IBAC website, and we also produce an annual plan each year setting out our key activities for that year. So, for 2022-23, IBAC has had a strategic sorry, has had six strategic focus areas to guide our operational activity with three focusing on police oversight. These are high-risk police units, divisions and regions use of force on people at risk, and police responses to family violence incidents and predatory behaviour. And so returning to the viewer question about what role does education and training play in IBAC's police oversight work? Well, I would say educating police about how to prevent corruption and misconduct is a very important aspect of our role.
Our current Victoria Police education programs include for all police recruits, IBAC provides training regarding misconduct reporting obligations and police misconduct risks during their initial training at the Victoria Police Academy. We also train newly qualified detectives on their role in upholding the integrity of the criminal justice system as part of their Centre for Crime Investigation course. And we present on ethical leadership and police misconduct risks to a range of senior officers as part of their professional development programs. So, to senior sergeants, inspectors and superintendents.
Thank you, Kylie. I would now like to introduce Emily Scott, Acting Manager Investigations. And Emily, I have a pre-submitted question from one of our viewers for you. And the question is, what types of complaints does IBAC receive about Victoria Police?
Thank you, Peter. And hello, everyone. I'm an acting manager for an investigations team at IBAC. I've been with Levac for six years, and prior to this, I was a Northern Territory police officer for 10 years. In answering the viewer question What type of complaints does IBAC receive about Victoria Police? We receive many complaints about Victorian police officers. And in 2022, 68% of complaints by back to received were about them. This includes Victoria Police personnel failing or refusing to perform their duties, behaving disgracefully or improperly, and that includes either on or off duty or discrediting Victoria Police or its personnel. Some examples of this include unauthorized access, unauthorized use and disclosure of police information, misuse of police resources and breaches of information security, stalking, family violence, sexual offenses, assaults, racist behaviour, breaches of human rights, and excessive use of force. In the 2022 calendar year, there were 1,900 complaints, which was a 14% increase from the 2021 period.
1,500 mandatory notifications were received from Victoria Police, which are complaints that are made directly to Victoria Police that we must be notified about. 234 public interest disclosure notifications were received from Victoria Police and 266 serious incident notifications were received from Victoria Police. This includes any police contact that results in the death or serious injury of a person. A single complaint or notification may contain several separate allegations that are individually assessed to determine an appropriate outcome. When IBAC receives a complaint, we notify the person making the complaint that we've received it. We may also contact them for more information, which helps us assess the allegation in the complaint to inform our decision. We assess each complaint to identify the allegations in the complaint based on both the information that's been provided and relevant information available to IBAC that could be connected to the complaint. We notify the person who made the complaint of the outcome in writing and this usually occurs within 45 days.
Some of the factors that we take into consideration when deciding to investigate a complaint include whether the conduct falls within IBAC's jurisdiction and whether there is reasonable evidence of serious or systemic corruption or police misconduct. There are two main kinds of investigation that IBAC carry out. These are preliminary inquiries and full investigations. A preliminary inquiry is typically done to gather further information regarding a complaint before we can decide the outcome of it. Full investigations are conducted when we have a reasonable suspicion that public sector corrupt conduct or police misconduct may have occurred. Investigations can go in many directions. However, the traditional phases a covert and overt. The covert phase is when we utilize our powers or capabilities to capture conduct happening in real-time. You may have seen this during our public examinations or with prosecution evidence. The overt phase is typically when we're engaging directly with a person of interest, witnesses, attending scenes and obtaining information either voluntarily or through tools such as search warrants.
These types of investigative techniques and powers are what traditional law enforcement agencies utilize, and IBAC is no different in that regard. IBAC also has a suite of coercive powers such as examinations, to either question a person or compel the production of documents or other items. In the police jurisdiction, we also have powers to compel police officers to answer questions during an interview with an investigator. In order to expose conduct, IBAC may need to utilize all of these powers to get to the heart of what has occurred and why. An investigation is not only focused on understanding what has happened but also how and why it has occurred. We look at all the contributing factors such as supervision, experience, training, policies and procedures. And all of this assists us to formulate recommendations to make a particular work unit or work group more corruption or misconduct resistant into the future. I'll now hand back to you, Peter.
Thank you, Emily. We received another pre-submitted viewer question, and that question is what happens at the conclusion of IBAC investigations into Victoria Police? Are there results? I can answer that question by telling you about several of our investigations which were finalised in 2022. I'll start with Operation Aurora. This was a preliminary inquiry into Victoria Police's investigation of a complaint alleging excessive use of force by a Victoria Police officer. IBAC found that the Victoria Police investigation was inadequate and IBAC referred the matter back to the Victoria Police for them to consider disciplinary action against the investigator. Operation Bacchus. This was another preliminary inquiry into Victoria Police's investigation of allegations of use of force by a Victoria Police officer against a bystander. IBAC identified misconduct by some officers involved in the incident and referred the matter back to the Victoria Police to consider disciplinary action against these officers.
Operation Karuah. This was an investigation into Victoria Police's investigation of allegations of misconduct by Victoria Police officers responding to a mental health incident. IBAC identified deficiencies in the investigation and made a number of recommendations to Victoria Police to improve systems, policies and procedures. Operation Orara. This was an investigation into allegations that a Victoria Police officer fabricated evidence in relation to the drug and alcohol testing of three drivers. IBAC found that the officer did fabricate the evidence and also identified deficiencies in the Victoria Police internal investigation. Made a number of recommendations to Victoria Police to improve systems, policies and procedures. And Operation Ovens. This was an investigation into three separate allegations of excessive use of force by Victoria Police officers in the same local area. IBAC substantiated one of the allegations of excessive use of force and also found that a Victoria Police internal investigation was inadequate.
We made a number of recommendations to Victoria Police to improve systems, policies and procedures. I'll now ask Kylie to tell us about recommendations.
Thanks, Peter. So, as a result of the investigations that we do, as well as reviews, audits and research reports, IBAC makes recommendations for Victoria Police to strengthen its policies and procedures to address systemic police misconduct and improve its conduct of internal investigations. IBAC then actively monitors and reports on their implementation. Recommendations in 2022 included 28 recommendations made arising from investigations, audits and research reports and 62 recommendations made following reviews. 36 recommendations made in 2022 or in previous years were implemented by Victoria Police and there are 78 recommendations that have been made by IBAC that are yet to be fully implemented by Victoria Police. In 2022, IBAC commenced a report to review implementation of all of the recommendations IBAC has made to Victoria Police in its investigations, special reports and research and audit reports between January 2016 and March 2022 and findings from this report will be available later in 2023.
And I hope you. Enjoy reading that report. Thanks, Peter.
OK. So, the questions have come in and we will only be able to answer a few tonight. So, thank you for those who have submitted questions and thank for those who are submitting questions prior to the event. And our first question will be what can be done to build the integrity culture of Victoria Police? So, Kylie, would you like to offer a view on that?
Thanks. That's a great question. I think there's a whole range of things that can be done to build the integrity culture of Victoria Police. So, one thing I'd really encourage people to do is report misconduct to IBAC if you're aware of it. If we don't know about it, we can't act on it. And so I'd really encourage people to jump on our website, have a look at our new website which has a new complaints form. It's much easier to fill in and report police misconduct to us so that we can take action. And then there's a range of things that we do with Victoria Police with respect to building their integrity culture. So, there's the investigations work that is often the most high-profile aspect of what IBAC does. But like I said at the beginning of the presentation, we also review a lot of matters that we refer back to Victoria Police to ensure that they've been done properly. And that gives us an opportunity to really hold Victoria Police accountable for their role in the police misconduct complaints system as well as their own ethical conduct of their police officers when undertaking investigative work.
And then there's the recommendations work that we do as well. So, pretty much anything that we touch in our Victoria Police jurisdiction we're always thinking about what does this say to us about ethical leadership risks or police misconduct risks and what recommendations can we make to either law policy or practice to improve the integrity culture of Victoria Police.
Excellent. Thanks, Kylie. A further question that came in is who decides whether a police officer will be prosecuted. Emily, can you take us through that?
Yes. So, when IBAC investigates police officers, we're looking at a lower threshold than public officials. So, we're also investigating police officers for disciplinary conduct while looking at whether any criminal conduct has been committed. So, once we've conducted an investigation, we'll assess the level of admissible evidence that's been obtained. If there's sufficient evidence for a charge, we look at the public interest in charging the officer and then ultimately the decision to lay a charge is made by our commissioner. We also, with any complex matters, will refer matters or liaise with the OPP.
Thanks, Emily. That's very comprehensive. I don't know Kylie if there's anything further you wanted to add to that.
That was a perfect answer. Thank you.
Alright. Further question coming in is how does IBAC decide what reviews of Victoria Police's investigations to do? Kylie.
So, thanks, Peter, for that question as well to the viewer who sent that one in. So, we recognize that the way that the police misconduct system works in Victoria is what's called a mixed civilian review model. So, IBAC has certain oversight functions, but Victoria Police share a role in investigating a large number of the misconduct complaints that come through our front door, as well as people can complain directly to Victoria Police if that's what they'd like to do. So because we recognise that basically inherent in that model is a potential conflict of interest whenever a Victoria Police officer is asked to investigate another Victoria Police officer, we use the review's function to go in and check that that aspect of what Victoria Police does in the police oversight model is being conducted properly. So, there's a range of factors that we'll take into consideration in choosing matters for review. So, the first thing I'd say is we keep an eye on how many matters are we referring to Victoria Police and making sure that we are taking a more than statistically significant sample of all of the referrals that we are sending over their way for review.
But what we'll also be focusing in on is things like those three strategic focus areas that I spoke about at the start of the presentation. So, any referral that I have to make regarding predatory behaviour by a police officer, for example, back to Victoria Police, we will mark that for review. Similarly, any matter that involves a Victoria Police officer who is a perpetrator of family violence, we'll mark that for review. Any matters that involve use of force against a vulnerable person. Generally speaking, IBAC tends to run those ones, particularly if we're looking at serious misconduct in the use of force. But where it's, you know, perhaps a lesser use of force and we've referred it to Victoria Police, we'll review those matters, particularly if there's something about the vulnerability of the complainant. So, for example, it may be that it was powers being used in a mental health incident. It could be an Aboriginal person. It could be a young person. So, we'll mark those sorts of matters for review.
We'll also zero in often we'll zero in on matters that involve more senior officers. So, if it's like a senior sergeant or a superintendent or an inspector who's the subject of the complaint, we'll often bring those ones back in for review as well to just to really check that senior officers are being held properly accountable. I think that's the main factors I describe. Yeah.
OK. Very good. Thanks, Kylie. So, we are coming up to the close there tonight. I don't think we have any further questions in there, so I'd like to thank you all for your time tonight. I hope you've got something out of this webinar. To help us to improve and to let us know what other topics you would like to hear about, please fill out the short survey. You'll see the QR code there. You can do this by the QR code or on screen or by filling out the survey when the session ends. And we really appreciate your feedback. Thanks again and have a great evening.