Outcome of IBAC's investigation into the conduct of Victoria Police officers in the apprehension of a person in Epping in September 2020
Victoria's independent police oversight body, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), has concluded its investigation into the conduct of Victoria Police officers in their apprehension of a person in Epping late last year.
IBAC Commissioner the Honourable Robert Redlich AM, QC said IBAC undertook a thorough investigation to examine the conduct of police and to determine if it was lawful. "The situation in Epping was dynamic and unpredictable. Police were dealing with an agitated and distressed person having a mental health episode, and whose actions had the potential to endanger themselves, members of the community and the police officers."
"Victoria Police officers used escalating levels of force in their attempts to get the situation under control. Less forceful options such as verbal directions, capsicum spray and a baton strike were used first, but did not work. IBAC reviewed the available police body worn camera footage, CCTV and other recordings during our investigation and it confirmed how volatile the situation was."
"Considering all the evidence gathered, IBAC found the force used by police officers at the scene was lawful in the circumstances. However, IBAC has identified several areas of concern which present police misconduct risks," Commissioner Redlich said.
IBAC found that Victoria Police officers at the scene did not inform the person of the reason for their detention at the time or shortly after they were detained, as required by Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act. In addition, the police officers failed to provide the person with appropriate aftercare for exposure to capsicum spray and two officers directed unprofessional comments at the person.
IBAC found other vulnerabilities that might expose Victoria Police to an increased risk of police misconduct including the failure of some officers to activate body worn cameras, the use of a police vehicle against the person, uncoordinated deployment of officers from the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) and inaccuracies with use of force reporting. Further, the officers who responded to this incident had not yet received dedicated training developed by Victoria Police to improve officers’ responses to mental health-related incidents.
"Mental health-related incidents add an additional layer of complexity to the often challenging situations to which Victoria Police officers respond. Our investigation highlights the importance of a key recommendation by the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System to implement ongoing training for Victoria Police officers in the management of mental health-related incidents and that where possible, health professionals - rather than police - should lead responses to people experiencing a mental health crisis, and responses requiring both ambulance and police should be led by paramedics," Commissioner Redlich said.
IBAC's Commissioner has written to the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, with recommendations that Victoria Police take actions in response and report back to IBAC on the actions taken within six months.
To report public sector corruption or police misconduct now, visit www.ibac.vic.gov.au/report or call 1300 735 135.
Background: Operation Wingan
Operation Wingan was an investigation by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) into the conduct of Victoria Police officers during the apprehension of a person (Person A) at Epping, Victoria on 13 September 2020.
IBAC may investigate police personnel conduct in response to a complaint or a notification from Victoria Police, or on its 'own motion'. IBAC decided to investigate the conduct after receiving a complaint from a member of the public about the way police treated Person A.
The investigation considered the facts and circumstances leading up to Person A's apprehension, Victoria Police's apprehension of Person A including the force used against them and whether criminal charges should be laid in relation to the force that was used and the actions of Victoria Police officers following the apprehension of Person A.
IBAC's examination of the available evidence from various sources included:
- material from Victoria Police related to the incident including body worn camera footage
- other video footage including from CCTV and material recorded by members of the public
- recordings of calls to triple zero and police radio communications
- interviews and witness statements from police, members of the public (including Person A) and expert witnesses.
Based upon all the evidence gathered, IBAC concluded that the level of force used by Victoria Police Officers was lawful in all the circumstances and that the laying of criminal charges against these officers was not appropriate.
IBAC found that Victoria Police officers may have acted inconsistently with the person's human rights as required by the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, including not informing the person of the reason for their detention at the time or shortly after they were detained.
IBAC also found that officers directed unprofessional comments at Person A at the scene after their apprehension.
IBAC identified several vulnerabilities that might expose Victoria Police to an increased risk of police personnel misconduct including poor practice with respect to:
- the activation of police body worn cameras (BWCs)
- the provision of capsicum spray aftercare
- how the officers’ use of force was reported and recorded
- the deployment of officers from the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT)
- the delivery of mental health awareness training to police officers.
IBAC also considered that the circumstances and manner in which it would be appropriate to use a police vehicle against the person should be explicitly addressed by the Victoria Police Tactical Options Model.
IBAC has previously identified broader concerns with the CIRT and is preparing a special report on these issues to be tabled in Parliament in 2022.
As I said at the time.
Victoria Police are out of control.
It's time for a new broom.
‘Disgusting’: Furious father slams Victoria Police over violent arrest
The father of a mentally ill man who was stomped on the head by police while being arrested at Epping says his son is now in a coma as a result of the incident.
An internal Victoria Police investigation is now underway after disturbing video emerged online of the arrest.
It shows six police officers pinning the man to the ground before one of them stomps of the man’s head.
His distraught father rang Neil Mitchell on Monday, demanding the officer lose his job.
“I couldn’t sleep last night, I was so upset,” he told Neil Mitchell.
Click PLAY below to see how it unfolded (WARNING: graphic content)
He said his son was bi-polar and was in the hospital on Sunday waiting to see a doctor, but they didn’t have a bed.
He then bumped into a friend and went outside, when the incident unfolded.
“The police had no right to do what they did,” he said.