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Complaints about the police

Complaints about the police

Why might I want to complain about the police?

Police may use a range of powers to help them do their job. On some occasions they may not use their powers appropriately or conduct themselves properly. In this case you may have a reason to complain about their conduct or behaviour.

The information here will help you make a complaint about police. Click here to download an information sheet on this topic.

For more information about some of the powers the police may use and the limits to those powers, see:

What should I do first?

As soon as possible after the incident, you should write down everything that happened. You should try to include:

  • The names of the police officers involved and their badge numbers.
  • What happened to you, including what was said.
  • The date and time when it happened.
  • Where it happened.
  • Any witnesses to what happened including their names and contact details.

If you have been hurt:

  • See a doctor straight away - you may need to get a medical report.
  • Get someone to take a photograph of your injuries.
  • Write down as much as you can about who hurt you including their name, badge number, rank and the police station where they work.
  • Write down the name of the last person to see you before you were hurt and the first person to see you afterwards. Ask them to write their own notes as soon as possible.

When should I make a complaint?

There is no time limit for complaining about the police, but it will usually assist your case if you make your complaint as soon as possible after the incident.

However, if  your complaint arises out of an arrest or prosecution for an offence, talk to a lawyer before making a complaint in case it is better to wait and lodge your complaint after your case has been dealt with in court.

If you receive legal advice to delay making your complaint, you should still write down everything that happened, as soon as possible after the incident.

What should be in the complaint?

Where possible your complaint should be in writing and provide details of what you say happened, including:

  • the date, time and location of the incident
  • the relevant officer's full name and/or badge number if known
  • names and contact details of any witnesses
  • vehicle registration or designation numbers
  • details of any relevant conversations
  • copies of any medical reports and photographs
  • copies of any letters sent or received

If your complaint is in writing, you should sign and date the complaint and keep a copy of it and all attached documents for your own records. Depending on who you are complaining to, there may a complaint form you can use.

If your complaint is over the phone or in person, you should make notes of the discussion and record the name of the person you speak to, what they agree to do about your complaint and ask for a receipt number or complaint number.

Who can I complain to about the conduct of WA police?

Police Complaints is a unit that addresses complaints about the unprofessional conduct of police personnel.

To make a complaint about WA Police, you are encouraged to complete the online complaint form or contact your nearest police station or district office in person, by telephone, or in writing.

If this does not resolve the issue you can:

  • write to  Police Complaints WA Police PO Box Z5386 St Georges Terrace Perth WA 6831.
  • call Police Complaints on (08) 9223 1000.
  • email from the link on the WA Police website.
  • telephone or go in person to any police station or district office.

The Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) will deal with all allegations of misconduct relating to WA Police. A copy of any complaint to the Commissioner of Police is sent to the CCC, so you may receive a response from the CCC as well as the police.

Go to the WA Police website for a WA Police brochure on Making a Police Complaint  for more information on how your complaint will be dealt with by the WA police. This brochure is available in several languages.

Corruption and Crime Commission of WA (CCC)

You can also lodge a complaint with the CCC:

  • online at the CCC website, under Reporting Misconduct>Notify the CCC
  • by email to info@ccc.wa.gov.au
  • by mail to PO Box 7667 Cloisters Square Perth 6850
  • in person at Ground Floor, 186 St George’s Terrace Perth 6000
  • by fax on (08) 9215 4884
  • by telephone on (08) 9215 4888 or toll free on 1800 809 000.

See below under the heading Am I protected from legal action if I make a complaint? for the consequences of making a false complaint or creating a false belief.

 

WA State Ombudsman

The State Ombudsman does not investigate complaints about police misconduct, but it does investigate complaints about police administration, for example, loss of a file. See below under the heading What if I have a complaint about WA police administration?

What if my property has been damaged while in the care of the WA police?

If your property has been damaged while in the care of police during an investigation you can contact the Civil Claims division of Police Complaints on (08) 9223 1000. You will need evidence of the condition of the property prior to it going into the care of the police.

What if I have a complaint about WA police administration?

For complaints about police administration (not police conduct) that is, the decision making practices and actions in providing their services, eg loss of a file, you can complain to the WA State Ombudsman:

  • by email to mail@ombudsman.wa.gov.au
  • by mail to PO Box Z5386 St Georges Terrace Perth WA 6831
  • by fax on (08) 9220 7500
  • by telephone on (08) 9220 7555 or toll free on 1800 117 000
  • in person at Level 2, Albert Facey House, 469 Wellington Street Perth WA 6000.

If you delay complaining for more than 12 months, the Ombudsman may refuse to investigate the complaint unless you have a reasonable explanation for the delay. The Ombudsman generally asks you to try to resolve the complaint first with the agency involved.

What if I have a complaint against the federal police?

You can make a complaint about the conduct of federal police officers to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), or where there is a reason you cannot approach the AFP about your complaint, the Commonwealth Legal Enforcement Ombudsman ("the Cth Ombudsman"). The Cth Ombudsman prefers it if you can try to resolve the complaint by first contacting the AFP.

You can make a complaint to the AFP:

  • online at the AFP website (see under About the AFP/Standards)
  • by mail to Professional Standards, AFP, GPO Box 401, Canberra ACT 2601
  • by telephone to Professional Standards on (02) 6131 6789
  • in person at any AFP state/regional office, or other AFP posting.

If you remain dissatisfied after making a complaint to the AFP you can make a complaint to the Commonwealth Legal Enforcement Ombudsman:

  • online at the Commonwealth Ombudsman website 
  • by mail to GPO Box 442 Canberra ACT 2601
  • in person at Level 2 Albert Facey House, 469 Wellington St, Perth
  • by telephone on 1300 362 072 (this is not a toll free number).

If you are not satisfied with the way the AFP has handled the complaint process you may contact the Cth Ombudsman.

Am I protected from legal action if I make a complaint?

If your complaint is made in good faith you are protected from legal action.

It is an offence punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine to make a report of police misconduct (or suspected misconduct) to the Corruption and Crime Commission if you:

  • know the report is false or misleading
  • are making the report maliciously or recklessly.

In some situations you may also be committing an offence under the Criminal Code.

It is an offence under the Australian Federal Police Act 1979 (Cth) to knowingly make a false complaint.

Can I take legal action against the police?

If you believe you have suffered a genuine wrong by the police and you have evidence of your suffering and loss, then you may be able to get compensation or damages. Get legal advice as soon as possible after the incident. If you have been the victim of an offence by the police, for example an assault, you may be able to claim criminal injuries compensation. For more information see Compensation on the Department of the Attorney General WA website.

Where can I get help to make a complaint?

Last reviewed: 11/03/2016

Last modified: 22/07/2016 3:21 PM

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.