Police Accountability

Independent Investigations of Police Misconduct for NSW

New South Wales currently lacks a police complaints handling system that meets community standards and expectations of independence, transparency and accountability. If you or someone you know experiences police misconduct, you will not have access to an impartial, independent and transparent investigation into the event. This includes instances of:

  • Breaches of human rights,
  • Discriminatory, racist or homophobic police conduct,
  • Excessive use of force or an unlawful assault by police.

This lack of an effective police accountability system also fails to meet best practice standards and erodes community trust and confidence in policing. This is to the detriment of NSW Police and the community.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has also identified it as a breach of international human rights obligations and benchmarks. A number of organisations and reports have called for the creation of a body that is institutionally and culturally independent of police to investigate allegations of misconduct.

The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommended that bodies completely independent of police be established for the investigation and adjudication of complaints against police. Almost twenty years after the Royal Commission NSW parliament has failed to take action.

In 2017 the United Nations Human Rights Committee called upon Australian jurisdictions to fulfill their obligations under the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights and ensure allegations of excessive use of force and deaths in custody be investigated in a fully independent and impartial manner.

In 2013 the Community Legal Centres NSW with the support of the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, Australian Lawyers Alliance, Aboriginal Legal Service, Youth Action Policy Association, Youth Justice Coalition and others called for the creation of an independent body to investigate civilian complaints against police.

Yet the current police complaint system is not independent, is non-transparent, difficult for the layperson to understand, and not required to make its findings in a public manner. This undermines its effectiveness as an accountability mechanism and erodes community trust in policing.

This situation has been created by politicians, but citizens like you have the power to change this.

It is time for a complaint system in NSW that is:

1. independent,

2. capable,

3. prompt,

4. open to public scrutiny.