Research reports

Audit of Victoria Police's oversight of serious incidents

To determine how effectively Victoria Police oversights serious incidents involving its officers, IBAC audited more than 140 oversight files closed by Victoria Police during the 2015/16 financial year. The audit examined Victoria Police’s oversight of serious incidents resulting in death and serious injury following police contact. The audit identified that there are aspects of Victoria Police’s oversight process that are concerning and which could be improved.

When a person dies or is seriously injured following an interaction with police, Victoria Police conducts an oversight of the incident and any subsequent investigation. Victoria Police’s oversight process seeks to identify whether the serious incident was preventable or whether improvements could be made to police policies or practices to prevent similar incidents from occurring. Victoria Police also examines whether the investigation of the death or serious injury met the standards expected for handling serious incidents.

Victoria Police conducts an oversight in response to the following serious incidents:

  • a death or serious injury resulting from contact between police and the public
  • a death or serious injury to a person in police custody
  • an attempted suicide by a person in police custody
  • an incident involving the discharge of a firearm by police
  • an escape from custody
  • any serious vehicle collision involving police.

This report presents the findings of IBAC’s audit of Victoria Police oversight files (known as C1-8 files). The audit assessed whether Victoria Police’s oversights were thorough and impartial and met the standards required of such reviews. IBAC also examined relevant Victoria Police policies, conducted data analysis, and reviewed case studies. IBAC has made recommendations for Victoria Police to improve its oversight of serious incidents which Victoria Police has accepted. IBAC will monitor how Victoria Police implements these recommendations.

The audit is part of an ongoing program of audits that IBAC conducts on how Victoria Police handles complaints. These audits help Victoria Police build capacity to prevent corrupt conduct and police misconduct by identifying areas of improvement around complaint handling. IBAC's audits also identify good practice that could be considered more broadly by Victoria Police. In doing so, audits help build public confidence in the integrity of Victoria Police’s processes and in IBAC’s independent police oversight role.

IBAC publishes responses to our recommendations in order to inform the community about actions agencies advise they are taking, and to share learnings that may help other agencies improve their systems and practices.