IBAC’s independent oversight of Victoria Police is critical because of the significant powers exercised by police officers, including powers to detain, search and arrest. One of IBAC’s strategic focus areas is the unlawful use of force by police officers against vulnerable or marginalised members of the community.
When a member of the public alleges that a police officer has used excessive force during an arrest or other interaction with police, IBAC makes an assessment and decides whether to investigate the allegation, or to refer it to Victoria Police for investigation. In 2020/21, approximately 10 per cent of allegations against Victoria Police assessed by IBAC concerned the use of force.
By law, IBAC must prioritise investigations into serious or systemic corruption and misconduct. For this reason, IBAC investigates only the most serious allegations of assault or excessive use of force (see for example IBAC’s Operation Durack, Operation Henty, Operation Wingan and Operation Yalgar). We refer the remaining allegations to Victoria Police for investigation.
IBAC reviews a proportion of Victoria Police’s investigations as part of our police oversight role. In selecting investigations for review, IBAC considers several factors. These include the seriousness of the allegation, the vulnerability of the complainant or affected person, the seniority and any complaint history of the officers involved, and whether the allegations fall within one of IBAC’s strategic focus areas or operational priorities. Two reviews of police investigations into allegations of excessive use of force are highlighted below.