|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
In May 1988, Ombudsman Victoria (VA 1037) was divided into two broad jurisdictions - the General Jurisdiction and the Police Jurisdiction. The Deputy Ombudsman (Police Complaints) Act 1988 created the position of Deputy Ombudsman (Police Complaints) which assumed the functions of the disbanded Police Complaints Authority (VA 2834). The Deputy Ombudsman (Police Complaints) was the same person who held the position of Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman Legislation (Police Ombudsman) Act 2004 abolished the position of Deputy Ombudsman (Police Complaints) and created the office of Police Ombudsman. This office was held by the person who was Ombudsman. The Act increased the Police Ombudsman's powers to investigate Victoria Police. The Office of Police Ombudsman as a separate agency is subject to further research.
The Office of Police Integrity (OPI) was formed as a new statutory body on 16 November 2004 following the enactment of Parliament of the Major Crime Legislation (Office of Police Integrity) Act 2004. Section 861(1) of the Police Regulation Act repealed with the commencement of the provisions which established OPI. The functions of the former office of Police Ombudsman were incorporated into the charter of OPI with additional functions that dealt with the ethical and professional standards of Victoria Police and the investigation of police corruption and serious misconduct. The head of OPI was the same person who held the position of Ombudsman.
The role of OPI is to detect, investigate and prevent any police corruption or serious misconduct that may occur in the force. OPI is an independent and impartial organisation, with the Director reporting direct to the Victorian Parliament. It is not part of Victoria Police (VA 724).
The OPI has power to:
- investigate the conduct of a member of Victoria Police,
- investigate police corruption or serious misconduct generally,
- investigate any of the policies, practices, or procedures of the Victoria Police or of a member of the Victoria Police, or the failure of those policies, practices or procedures,
- obtain warrants to enter and search premises and seize documents, equipment, etc;
- summons any person to give evidence under oath and to produce documents,
- arrange for any person who refuses to respond to summons without reasonable excuse to be arrested and taken before the Supreme Court,
- enter, search and seize documents and other items in the premises of public authorities without a warrant,
- seek certain orders under the Confiscation Act 1997,
- investigate individuals, sections of the force, police policies or procedures without a complaint having been made,
- re-investigate a complaint already investigated by Victoria Police; and
- investigate former members of Victoria Police for their conduct while police members
The OPI applied the criteria set out under the Police Regulation Act 1958 to determine what should be done with each complaint made about Victoria Police and its members. Some complaints were resolved through conciliation while others required investigation by OPI. The OPI is required by law to refer some complaints to the Ethical Standards Department of Victoria Police to handle.