IBAC Insights (newsletter)

IBAC special report finds ongoing misconduct issues and risks with Victoria Police's Critical Incident Response Team

A special report tabled in parliament today by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) highlights several incidents, issues and risks involving Victoria Police’s Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT).

The special report Police misconduct issues and risks associated with Victoria Police’s CIRT identifies repeated failures of CIRT officers to accurately report their use of force, a lack of adherence to the Charter of Human Rights, inadequate risk assessment and planning processes, and poor communication by some CIRT officers when responding to incidents.

The report also highlights a lack of gender diversity - with more than 90 per cent of CIRT officers being male - which is not representative of Victoria Police’s broader workforce or the Victorian community.

Despite the difficult nature of CIRT's work, responding to and dealing with high-risk incidents, officers are expected to uphold Victoria Police values, which include safety, integrity, respect, and professionalism.

IBAC Deputy Commissioner, Kylie Kilgour, said the report finds risks and vulnerabilities that undermine CIRT, and the professional standards expected of officers with their level of specialist training, weapons, and expertise.

"Inconsistencies in reporting reduces the transparency of CIRT's use of force on members of the public.

"Inadequate risk assessment processes increase the risk that CIRT officers will use force on members of the public that may result in serious injuries. This is particularly relevant to CIRT due to the nature of the incidents to which it responds and the additional weapons CIRT officers regularly use.

"While most of the recommendations IBAC made to Victoria Police following Operation Lynd and Wingan have been actioned, there are still further opportunities for improvement," Ms Kilgour said.

A key recommendation from this special report is for Victoria Police to improve the accuracy of, and compliance with, its use of force reporting. This will assist both Victoria Police and IBAC to ensure force is used according to policy and legislation and to identify trends and patterns in the use of force by officers that may need to be investigated.

Further recommendations aim to strengthen how CIRT undertakes operational risk assessments, and to ensure consistency in how officers are deployed, while also making sure CIRT officers are clear on their role when they attend incidents.

IBAC is Victoria's agency responsible for preventing and exposing public sector corruption and police misconduct. IBAC's oversight of Victoria Police helps to ensure police officers act fairly, impartially, and according to the law, and has led to action being taken by Victoria Police to address misconduct issues and risks, including regular drug testing of officers and improvements to its complaints handling processes.