5. Receiving, Registering & Categorising Abacus Matters

This chapter relates to all levels of matters.

5.1. Registration Flowchart Overview

Below is a chart showing the registration process.  If any member is in doubt of their Abacus responsibilities or the processes, they should seek advice from a supervisor, manager or Professional Standards.

Abacus - Registration Flowchart Overview

When matters are routed through BlueTeam the recipient receives a notification e-mail in their normal Outlook inbox.  The BlueTeam User Guide has detailed directions on the data entry process.

Members and/or supervisors should consider whether managers require immediate verbal notification of some matters and take appropriate action.  They should record on BlueTeam that notification was made.

The timeframes noted in the above diagram are measurable time points and are included in six-monthly reports to the Deputy Commissioner.  There is a clear requirement on all involved to ensure they meet their measurable time point obligations.

5.2. Rights of Complainants

All complainants are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.  Members receiving complaints must demonstrate[21]:

  • respect and courtesy
  • patience and tolerance
  • discretion and confidentiality
  • a willingness to assist
  • good judgement and common sense

Members are similarly entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.  Further information is at Complaint from a person demonstrating unreasonable behaviour.

5.2.1. Reference Number

If a complainant asks for a reference number they should be advised that it is not immediately available (as the number is not given until the matter leaves the IAPro ‘holding bin’), but the IAPro number can be provided to them in approximately 5 working days.  If the complaint is accepted as a level 2 or 3 matter the reference number will be contained in their acknowledgement letter.

5.3. Receiving Complaints

Part 13 of the Tasmania Police Manual (TPM) contains the following orders:


ORDER

A member who is advised by any person that they wish to make a complaint against a police officer, or Tasmania Police, is required to obtain details (person reporting, circumstances, etc.) and must register the matter on IAPro or BlueTeam as a Complaint 1, Complaint 2 or Complaint 3 (whichever is appropriate to the circumstances).

A statement of complaint must be obtained for all Complaint 2 and Complaint 3 matters.  A statement of complaint is not required for Complaint 1 matters.

Certain members are exempted from this Order in particular circumstances.  Those circumstances are detailed in Abacus 5.3 Receiving Complaints.


If the member receiving an Abacus complaint or IRM believes they have a conflict of interest, they must continue to take the complaint and register it on BlueTeam, making a note of the conflict in the entry.

5.3.1. Radio Dispatch Services (RDS) Members

An exemption exists for Radio Dispatch Services (RDS) members who are not obliged to receive and register complaints, unless the complaint relates to an RDS member (in which case the matter should be referred to an RDS supervisor).  In all other circumstances they will transfer the call to the supervisor of the member complained about, or another supervisor on-duty in that member’s area.

If a supervisor on-duty is unavailable the RDS member will create an ESCAD job and allocate it to that supervisor.  The responsibility for contacting the complainant and registering the complaint on BlueTeam lies with that supervisor.

5.3.2. Prosecutors

In accordance with Part 8.8 of the Tasmania Police Manual (TPM), if magistrates or justices make adverse remarks about police action in open court then prosecutors will inform them of the avenues to formally make a complaint should they wish to.  The prosecutor is not obliged to register the matter on BlueTeam.

Where a prosecutor becomes aware of any criticism or comment relating to the conduct of a member (including a failure to comply with correct procedure) made by a magistrate in a written decision, the prosecutor is obliged to register the matter on BlueTeam as an IRM and attach, if available, the written decision.  The matter is to be referred to the prosecutor’s supervisor or manager.

5.3.3. State Service Employees

State service employees (SSEs) are not required to take or register complaints against police but they must refer complainants to a police officer.  Complainants are not to be told to come back at a later time or to attend another police station or to call again.  SSEs working in police stations must refer complainants to a police officer who is present and if none are available the SSE is to immediately obtain the reporting person’s details and create a BlueTeam Information Only entry.  They are to forward the matter to a supervisor or manager for prompt action.

The SSE is to advise the person reporting with the name and contact details of the supervisor or manager to whom the Information Only report will be forwarded.

5.3.4. Constables

If a constable is on-duty and a person indicates that they are considering making a complaint, or that they wish to make a complaint, the constable should, in the first instance, refer the matter to a supervisor or manager.

If a supervisor or manager is not immediately available to deal with the matter, the constable is obliged to take the complaint and register the matter on BlueTeam.

5.4. Complaints Received by Mail

5.4.1. Records Information Services / Office of the Commissioner

Written complaints by mail, e-mail, or fax received at Records Information Services and addressed to the Commissioner are scanned into HP Records Manager and delivered electronically to the Commissioner’s Office.  The staff officer to the Deputy Commissioner is responsible for entering these matters on to IAPro, categorising them, and preparing initial correspondence. The staff officer is also responsible for entering on to IAPro written complaints received by mail, e-mail, or fax directly to the Office of the Commissioner.

5.4.2. District / Division

Written complaints received by mail, e-mail, fax directly to a District or Division are to be recorded on HP Records Manager and a note is to be added that the matter is on BlueTeam (the IAPro number is to be added to the HP Records Manager document by Professional Standards).  They are then to be uploaded on BlueTeam by the relevant commander or inspector.  From that point, all correspondence in relation to that matter is stored and managed on IAPro/BlueTeam and not HP Records Manager.

5.5. Notification to the Integrity Commission by Tasmania Police

Tasmania Police must notify the Integrity Commission whenever it is reasonably suspected that a member has engaged in serious misconduct or whenever a Commissioned Officer (that is, a person of or above the rank of inspector or a person undertaking authorised higher duties at the rank) is the subject of any complaint. The Integrity Commission may either investigate the allegation or refer the matter back to the Commissioner of Police.

Notification is to be made by Professional Standards, or the Deputy Commissioner. More information in relation to the Integrity Commission is available here.

5.6. Offences Committed by Members of other Police Services

Offences committed by members of other police services must also be reported in accordance with Part 2.19 of the TPM.


ORDER

Members must notify their divisional inspector or the duty inspector promptly if they detect a member of any other police force or police service committing:

  • a criminal offence; or
  • a drug offence; or
  • a serious traffic offence which is likely to result in a driver’s licence cancellation or suspension.

An incident sheet must be submitted prior to the conclusion of duties and forwarded for the information of the commander and the Office of the Commissioner.


The Deputy Commissioner is to notify their counterpart within the police force or police service of the offending member promptly.

5.7. Is Immediate Action Required?

Members are expected to use good judgement and assess whether any immediate action is required.  If a complaint is received that requires immediate attention, for example an excessive force complaint involving minor-moderate injury, members are to arrange the collection of photographs and the complainant’s statement and secure any other evidence as necessary.  Relevant CCTV footage should be downloaded to ensure that it is secured for possible future use before it is recorded over.  If it is not possible to obtain a complainant statement (e.g. because they are intoxicated, obtaining medical treatment), all evidence is to be secured and a BlueTeam entry submitted.

If a level 3 matter is reported then immediate telephone notification to the divisional inspector or duty inspector is required.  The divisional inspector or duty inspector is to determine if the matter requires the Professional Standards Commander to be notified immediately.

5.8. Registration on BlueTeam

The process for registering complaints, internally raised matters (IRMs) and compliance review matters is to create a new entry on BlueTeam and route it to a supervisor.  A matter is ‘registered’ (for the purposes of section 45 of the Police Service Act 2003) once it is routed to a supervisor/manager.  Members of any rank can register matters on BlueTeam.  All complaints are to be registered, including those that are dismissed, conciliated (informally resolved or formally resolved), or withdrawn; and matters that are dealt with on the spot.

The log-in for BlueTeam is the registering member’s employee number (not badge number). This number will also be the password at the initial log-in and members will then be prompted to change the password.  Comprehensive directions on using BlueTeam are available on the intranet.  A flowchart summary is at the start of this chapter.

Matters must be registered on BlueTeam within 1 working day (i.e. before the end of shift).  As some matters are received via e-mail over a weekend, the timeframe for registration has been set at within 1 working day of receipt.  Adherence to timeframes is important for timely resolution of the matter.

5.9. Initial Categorisation by Registering Member

5.9.1. Member Receiving Complaint / Internally Raised Matter

Members will, when registering a matter on BlueTeam, be required to choose an Abacus category based on their assessment of the incident or allegation(s).  Categories are further explained under IAPro and BlueTeam Report Names and Levels.

5.9.2. Multiple Allegations or Conduct Matters Identified within One Complaint

If one complaint or internally raised conduct matter contains several allegations which fit into more than one Abacus category, then the highest category is to be selected on BlueTeam.

5.10. How does Abacus Relate to other Reporting Requirements?

Depending on the nature of an Abacus allegation, there may be a requirement for member’s details to be recorded on standard information systems such as FVMS, TCRS, DORS, OLC, BAS and PINS.  If that is the case, member’s details will be recorded as required, and in the same manner that any member of the public would be recorded.

There are two Tasmania Police systems where member’s details will be treated differently.  The two exceptions to this are:

  1. Offence Reporting System (ORS2)
  2. Forensic Register

This is explained below.

Note: all Tasmania Police systems are auditable and any inappropriate access will be dealt with as a potential breach of the Code of Conduct.

5.10.1. Offence Reporting System (ORS2)

Any entries into the Offence Reporting System (ORS2) will be made at the appropriate time by Professional Standards (or an inquirer/investigator on the advice of Professional Standards).  The reason for this is because BlueTeam is the single case management system for Abacus matters.  An Offence Report will only be raised if a member is to be charged with an offence, serious offence or crime that requires an Offence Report, or when it is required for forensic purposes, such as fingerprint results.

5.10.2. Forensic Register

Where forensic samples are required the Forensic Register is to be used in accordance with standard forensic procedures.  The only exceptions to this are highly personal photographs e.g. of members’ intimate body parts.  Those photographs should instead be uploaded to BlueTeam.

Where a complainant provides an exhibit in connection with their complaint the receiving member must ensure it is securely packaged in accordance with Tasmania Police forensic procedures.

5.10.3. HP Records Manager

With the exception of Final Determination Notices, documents relating to Abacus complaints, IRMs and other matters are not uploaded to HP Records Manager.  The only exception to this is if the matter is first brought to the attention of Tasmania Police by correspondence to Records Information Services who are required to upload it to HP Records Manager when it is first received.

5.10.4. Integrated Data Management System (IDM) – Information Reports

Intelligence or information relating to criminal activity or threats against police is recorded in an Information Report through IDM.  If information is provided that amounts to a complaint against police or an IRM, that part of the information should not be included in the Information Report but submitted separately on BlueTeam.  Conversely, if a complaint against police or IRM also includes general information or intelligence an IDM Information Report should be submitted as well as the BlueTeam entry.

Important: members should use good judgement in submitting IDM reports arising from complaints.  Care must be taken to limit the report to information relating to the wider criminal activity – information about the complaint against police is not to be included.

Example

A complainant alleges that a police officer has an improper association and corrupt dealings with a civilian who is a member of an Outlaw Motor Cycle Gang (OMCG).  During the BlueTeam registering process the member receiving the complaint checks IDM and sees that the civilian does not have any intelligence linking them to the OMCG.  The receiving member completes the BlueTeam registration and separately submits a brief Information Report about the civilian’s alleged OMCG association.

5.11. Acceptable Formats for Complaints

The Police Service Act 2003 at section 44 requires that a complaint:

  1. must be made in writing or in a manner approved by the Commissioner; and
  2. must be made within 6 months after the conduct became known to the complainant (unless amounting to ‘special circumstances’ – see s44(4)); and
  3. must contain details of the conduct; and
  4. does not need to identify the complainant.

Generally speaking, ‘in writing’ includes a completed Statement of Complaint, letter, e-mail, fax, statutory declaration or formal audio or video interview.   The complaint must be addressed to Tasmania Police, Department of Police, Fire, and Emergency Management (DPFEM) or one of its sections or employees.  ‘In writing’ does not include comments or posts made on social media or news media (such as comments on an online news article or letters to the editor), although these may be registered as Information Only.  These requirements are set out on the Tasmania Police website and in publicly available information about making a complaint.

5.11.1. Level 1 matters by Telephone

Complaints in relation to level 1 matters do not need to be made in writing and may be made via telephone or in person[22], however like all other Abacus matters they must be registered on BlueTeam.

5.12. Basic Information Required from Complainants

In receiving a complaint members must obtain certain details which are contained in the Statement of Complaint template.  If the template is unavailable members should obtain the following details if possible:

  • complainant’s name and contact details, unless the complainant wishes to remain anonymous[23]
  • preferred method of contact
  • identity of member(s) the complaint relates to
  • date and time of complaint
  • details of the conduct complained about[24]
  • whether the complaint has been previously made and responded to (either by Tasmania Police or another agency)
  • details of witness/es
  • special assistance required by the complainant to properly interact with Tasmania Police (refer Special Assistance Required by Complainants and Witnesses)
  • outcome sought by complainant (if applicable), including whether the complainant seeks follow up contact by Tasmania Police[25] (note that there is a requirement[26] to notify a complainant of a determination to take any action under section 43(3) of the Police Service Act 2003
  • whether or not the complaint is being made within 6 months of the conduct becoming known to the complainant and, if not, what special circumstances exist to warrant the complaint being accepted[27]. Refer to Complaints Made More Than 6 Months after Conduct became known to Complainant.
  • signature

5.13. Complaints by Proxy (Third Party)

Under the Police Service Act 2003 complaints may be made by ‘any person’. This includes a person complaining against police in relation to the experience of a person other than themselves.  These complaints should be registered on BlueTeam and managed in the same manner as any other complaint.

Examples

  • a parent complaining about police interactions with their child
  • a bystander in a public place complaining about their perception of police interactions with a person unknown to them

If the member is not identifiable it should be registered as complaint against an ‘unknown officer’.

5.14. Complaints Made More Than 6 Months after Conduct became known to Complainant

The Police Service Act 2003, Section 44 states that a complaint must be made within six (6) months of the conduct becoming known to the complainant.  Subsection (4) states that a complaint may be accepted outside of that time period, if special circumstances exist.

Complaints constituting a level 1 matter that are made more than 6 months after the conduct became known to the complainant are to be recorded on BlueTeam™ (with appropriate notes) and closed with no further action.  This accords with section 44 of the Police Service Act 2003.

If the matter constitutes a level 2 or 3 matter the manager validating the BlueTeam entry must decide whether the complaint is to be accepted on the basis that there are ‘special circumstances’.  The advice of Professional Standards must be obtained.  In broad terms, special circumstances are circumstances that are markedly different from the usual[28] and that have sufficient weight to persuade the decision-maker to exercise a discretion to accept a complaint.  Consideration should be given to whether or not the report could reasonably have been made within six months.  Matters to be considered include (but are not limited to):

  • is or was there ill health (including mental health or addiction) or disability of the person reporting;
  • was the person reporting fearful or did they feel threatened
  • does the statute of limitations for the offence still apply – if so a complaint must be taken;
  • was the person unaware of the situation or full circumstances of the matter;
  • was the person unable to access direct forms of communication, for example by reason of incarceration or being overseas.
  • did the person receive incorrect legal advice;
  • was the person seeking to make the report genuinely overborn by the nature of reporting the matter to police; and
  • was there an attempt to report the matter previously to Tasmania Police or an oversight body.
  • how serious is the allegation(s)
    Generally, the more serious the alleged breach of the Code of Conduct, the more likely it is to meet ‘special circumstances’ criteria; the less serious it is, the less likely that it should trigger the discretion to accept it. 
  • is the reputation of Tasmania Police likely to be damaged if the complaint is not taken
  • what is the time period since the behaviour is alleged to have occurred
  • what is the time period since the person reporting became aware of the matter
  • is the matter relevant to any current or closed investigation or court matter
  • has the subject officer repeated the behaviour that is alleged
  • has the matter been dealt with by another agency
  • has the matter previously been reported to Tasmania Police by the any person; and
  • is the person seeking to report the matter anonymous.

If a decision is made to accept the complaint it is to be registered and progressed in accordance with Abacus.

If a decision is made not to accept the complaint it must still be registered and categorised in accordance with Abacus.  A record of the reasons for the decision not to accept the complaint must be included in the registration.  The matter should then be routed to Professional Standards where it will be closed.  A letter is to be sent to the complainant, by the decision-maker, advising them of this decision.

5.15. Complaint from a Charged Person

Some complaints relate to matters in which the complainant is subject to prosecution, for example a charge of assault police.  The complaint should be taken in the standard manner.  See also Impact of Court Proceedings.

5.16. Complaint from an Intoxicated Person

Complaints made by people who appear intoxicated or affected by drugs must be registered as Information Only on BlueTeam.  Notes relating to the person’s apparent intoxication should be included.  Although it is inappropriate to obtain a written complaint from a person in such a state, members must ensure that other inquiries are addressed, e.g. securing photographic evidence of alleged injuries.  The complainant will need to be contacted again when they are sober.  As members must adhere to the Abacus timeframes, the registering member must submit the Information Only report within 1 working day.  The member should route the BlueTeam report to their supervisor, noting that the complainant needs to be contacted when sober.  It will then fall to the member’s supervisor to arrange follow-up contact with the complainant (either themselves or through another member) as the supervisor has two working days to route the report onwards.

5.17. Complaint from a Person Behaving Unreasonably

Some complainants exhibit behaviour that may be considered unreasonable, such as[29]:

  • being aggressive or verbally abusive
  • threatening harm or violence to others or themselves
  • lying or being intentionally misleading
  • displaying unreasonable persistence or demands
  • making inappropriate demands on time and/or resources including the prioritisation or escalation of their matter
  • bombarding the organisation with excessive phone calls or e-mails
  • displaying irrationality, e.g. expressing peculiar conspiracy theories
  • unreasonable arguments
  • refusing to accept decisions and/or recommendations already made by the organisation about their complaint (based solely on the fact that the finding was not in their favour)
  • unreasonable lack of cooperation, e.g. denying responsibility for actions or providing disorganised information (where they are clearly capable of organising the information)
  • the complaint contains unreasonable persistence, unreasonable demands, unreasonable lack of cooperation, unreasonable arguments or unreasonable behaviour

This behaviour may be fleeting and members should relate the unreasonableness to the behaviour and not the person.  Complainants have a reasonable right to express dissatisfaction, providing they comply with the law.  Strategies for dealing with this behaviour are set out below.

5.17.1. Strategies for Managing Unreasonable Behaviour from a Complainant

It is important to remember that, even where a person’s conduct may be unreasonable, they may have a valid complaint and their complaint should be handled appropriately.  Fair consideration must be given to the complaint while ensuring that there is not undue use of resources to investigate and resolve the complaint[30], understanding that such complaints can be a disproportionate drain on resources.

Strategies for managing complainants demonstrating unreasonable behaviour include:

  • immediately reporting to a supervisor any workplace health and safety issues arising from dealing with the complainant;
  • documenting in detail all contact with the complainant including words used by the complainant, dates and time of interactions with them and any advice given to them by police. This information should be recorded on running sheet entries on BlueTeam;
  • where required, requesting all future communication from the complainant regarding their complaint be made in writing and not in person (reiterating that they may still contact police if they require emergency assistance or wish to report a crime);
  • where required, advising the complainant that all future communication with them regarding their complaint will be restricted, for example they may only liaise with a designated officer or designated position;
  • where required, politely terminating a phone call if the complainant’s conduct warrants it; or
  • referring dissatisfied complainants to external agencies such as Ombudsman Tasmania, the Integrity Commission or Equal Opportunity Tasmania (where applicable). This should only occur when the complaint has already been registered on BlueTeam and the advice to take their matter elsewhere should be documented on a BlueTeam running sheet entry on the original complaint.

Complaints falling into this category will be registered on BlueTeam and managed appropriately.  Managers can give consideration to dismissing such complaints without an investigation under section 46(2) of the Police Service Act 2003 namely:

  1. what action has been or is to be taken to remedy the subject matter of the complaint;
  2. whether the complaint is frivolous, vexatious or not made in good faith;
  3. whether the subject matter of the complaint is trivial;
  4. whether the subject matter of the complaint is able to be resolved by conciliation;
  5. whether there was or is an alternative and satisfactory means of redress available to the complainant;
  6. whether the subject matter of the complaint is being, is to be, or has been, dealt with in other proceedings;
  7. any other matter the Commissioner considers appropriate.

Further information is available through Ombudsman Tasmania publication Guidelines for Managing Unreasonable Conduct by Complainants.

5.17.2. Persistent Complainants

There are a minority of complainants whose unreasonable persistence escalates to an excessive degree.  They may be dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint and seek to re-lodge it or have it investigated repeatedly.  Whilst they are entitled to be heard, where their repeated persistence relates to the same complaint then they may be deemed a persistent complainant.

A manager may seek the advice of Professional Standards with a view to having a person declared a persistent complainant.  Professional Standards will then conduct an assessment and make a determination.  If assessed as a persistent complainant, Professional Standards is responsible for sending the person a template letter and arranging an INTREPID Central Enquiry (ICE) warning.  Repeat complaints from persistent complainants (that is, the same person complaining about the same matter) will be recorded as Information Only.  Matters will not be re-investigated unless there is fresh evidence.

Members must be mindful that, despite being declared a persistent complainant, the person may have a fresh and legitimate complaint to make.  Members are to establish whether the person is seeking to make a fresh complaint or to resurrect an old one.  Members are obliged to take a fresh complaint from a person previously assessed as a persistent complainant.

5.18. Forensic Exhibits from Complainants

Where a complainant provides an exhibit in connection with their complaint the receiving member must ensure it is securely packaged and continuity correctly recorded in accordance with standard procedures.  The Forensic Register is to be used in all cases except for highly personal photographs of members, e.g. intimate body parts, which are to be uploaded to BlueTeam instead.

5.19. Supplementary Information from Complainants

If a member without carriage of a particular Abacus matter receives supplementary information relating to a complaint, they should deliver it to the member handling the matter (if known).  If it is unknown who has carriage of the matter, advice should be sought from Professional Standards.  If the supplementary information is a forensic exhibit the above forensic procedures apply.

5.20. Complaints from Informants (Human Sources)

This section refers to terminology contained in the Informant Management Guidelines available on the intranet.  In some circumstances informants (human sources) may make complaints or disclose allegations to their Controller of a potential breach of the Code of Conduct by a member.  The Controller must inform the Registrar of the information received.  Depending on the extent of detail in the information received, the Registrar may either register the matter on to BlueTeam or notify Professional Standards directly.  These matters are to be recorded as a complaint if appropriate, or as an IRM.  In all documentation the informant should be referred to only by their Informant Code.

5.21. Complaints Received through Other Avenues

5.21.1. Magistrate and Judge Decisions

Tasmania Police may, from time to time, be advised of decisions of magistrates or justices that contain adverse comments about the conduct of a member.  Any such decision will be assessed to determine whether or not the matter should be dealt with as a complaint against police.  If so, it will be registered on BlueTeam by the prosecutor, in accordance with Registering a Complaint – Prosecutors.

If Tasmania Police is advised of an adverse comment by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, or directly by the court, through correspondence directed to Office of the Commissioner, the Staff Officer to the Deputy Commissioner is responsible for entering the matter on IAPro.  If the advice is to Professional Standards, then Professional Standards must enter the matter on IAPro.

5.21.2. Letters regarding Police Infringement Notices

When Tasmania Police receives letters from people who have been issued a Police Infringement Notice (PIN) that contain comments or allegations about the conduct of the issuing member, the letter will be dealt with by the member’s district commander.  The district commander will assess whether or not it amounts to a complaint against police.  If so, it will be registered on BlueTeam.  If the letter challenges the facts upon which the PIN was issued, the person will be reminded that they may elect to have the matter dealt with in court.

5.21.3. Letters to a Minister

When Tasmania Police receives correspondence from a minister and that correspondence includes comments or allegations about the conduct of a member, consideration will be given to whether or not the matter amounts to a complaint against police.  The Staff Officer to the Deputy Commissioner is responsible for ensuring the matter is registered on IAPro.

The Minister’s correspondence will be dealt with on HP Records Manager, and the complaint aspect managed on BlueTeam.

5.22. Alternative Complaint Agencies

Complaints about Tasmania Police or its members may be made to various other agencies.  Where a matter is received by an external agency and referred to Tasmania Police it will be assessed and categorised by Tasmania Police in accordance with Abacus procedures.

5.22.1. Registration of Complaints to External Agencies

Tasmania Police will not deal with a complaint that is being dealt with by another agency unless approved by the Deputy Commissioner, but it must be registered on IAPro/BlueTeam upon Tasmania Police being advised of the complaint.  Responsibility for registration of matters from external agencies rests with the staff officer to the Deputy Commissioner.

If the external agency is maintaining carriage of the matter but is notifying Tasmania Police for information then the matter will be registered on IAPro/BlueTeam as Information Only. IAPro/BlueTeam checks must be made of both the subject officer(s)’ conduct history and the complainant’s complaint history to determine if Tasmania Police has already received the complaint directly and if an inquiry / investigation is in progress.  If an inquiry / investigation is already in progress by Tasmania Police, the external agency is to be advised of this.  If the external agency wishes to continue to investigate the matter, Tasmania Police will suspend or close its own inquiry / investigation unless the Deputy Commissioner advises otherwise.

If the external agency is referring a matter to be dealt with by Tasmania Police the matter will be registered on IAPro/BlueTeam, assessed and the appropriate category assigned unless the matter has previously been received, is under investigation or has been investigated.

5.22.2. Integrity Commission

The Integrity Commission works to improve the standard of conduct, propriety and ethics in Tasmania’s public sector and is independent of the Government. It undertakes educative and preventative work and investigates misconduct.

Complaints may be made to the Integrity Commission about misconduct[31] and serious misconduct by public officers. ‘Public officers’ includes members and SSEs. The Integrity Commission may assess, investigate, inquire into or otherwise deal with complaints relating to serious misconduct by a member, or refer matters to Tasmania Police. The Integrity Commission may also assume responsibility for an investigation commenced by the Commissioner of Police into misconduct by a member.  It may audit the way the Commissioner of Police has dealt with police misconduct, in relation to either a particular complaint or a class of complaint.

A person may also complain to the Integrity Commission if they are not satisfied that ‘misconduct’ or ‘serious misconduct’ under the Integrity Commission Act 2009 has been adequately dealt with by Tasmania Police.

More information is at www.integrity.tas.gov.au.

5.22.3. Ombudsman Tasmania

Complaints may be made by any person (including members) to Ombudsman Tasmania about the administrative processes of Tasmania Police.  These complaints generally concern process and may involve allegations that there has, for example, been a failure to provide procedural fairness or that correct procedure was not followed in some way.  Ombudsman Tasmania has no jurisdiction over police conduct and cannot change any outcomes determined by Tasmania Police.

Wider issues addressed by Ombudsman Tasmania include the actions of Tasmanian Government departments and agencies, the provision of local government services, the treatment and welfare of people in prison and the administrative actions of State-owned businesses and Government Business Enterprises.  More information is at www.ombudsman.tas.gov.au.

5.22.4. Equal Opportunity Tasmania

Complaints relating to discrimination may be made to Equal Opportunity Tasmania.  Discrimination occurs when a person is disadvantaged or treated less favourably than other people because they have a particular attribute such as their age, race, sex, sexual orientation or disability.  More information is at www.equalopportunity.tas.gov.au.

5.23. Complaints or IRM against State Service Employees (SSEs)

Any complaint or IRM relating to a state service employee (SSE) employed within Tasmania Police business units are directed to the Deputy Commissioner for referral to Business and Executive Services (BES) – unless the matter is criminal in which case it may be investigated by Professional Standards or allocated to another District by the Deputy Commissioner.

Any complaint or IRM relating to a state service employee (SSE) employed within a Tasmania Police business unit is to be registered on IAPro/BlueTeam as an Information Only.

5.24. Withdrawal of Complaints

Any pressure placed on a complainant to withdraw a complaint will constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct.  Allegations of this nature cannot be dealt with as a level 1.

External and internal complainants may voluntarily withdraw their complaint at any time.  This must be done in writing and a specific template is available for this purpose.  It is not necessary for the subject officer to be consulted as part of the process.  If a decision is made to close the matter due to the withdrawal of the complaint the subject officer should be advised in writing.

Sound judgement is always required in determining which matters are suitable for withdrawal. In the interests of maintaining proper standards of conduct and public confidence some matters ought to be inquired into or investigated regardless of the desire of the complainant to withdraw their complaint.  Where any doubt exists, advice can be sought from Professional Standards.  Complainants and members must be aware that Tasmania Police reserves the right to continue an inquiry or investigation after a complaint is withdrawn.

The member receiving the withdrawal must either update BlueTeam (if it is allocated to them) or send an e-mail with relevant details to internal.investigations@police.tas.gov.au.

5.25. Special Assistance Required by Complainants or Witnesses

It is important that police have the skills and knowledge to identify complainants and witnesses who require additional assistance; and the resources available to provide it.  The particular needs of such complainants and witnesses must be taken into account.  Where applicable, contact should be made with relevant support people, agencies or liaison officers.

People who may potentially require special assistance are those who:

  • have difficulty understanding
  • have an intellectual disability
  • have a mental health problem
  • have an acquired brain injury
  • have a disability
  • have drug / alcohol addiction(s)
  • are children or youths
  • are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • are culturally or linguistically diverse (e.g. from a non-English speaking background)
  • are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI)
  • are making a complaint that relates to a family violence matter
  • are making a complaint that relates to a sex crime

Furthermore, a person may otherwise require special assistance due to the particular circumstances of the complaint and how it relates to their own personal circumstances. This may include police complainants.

Part 2.26 of the TPM (People with disability and impairment) contain specific provisions regarding different types of special assistance.  Also, a comprehensive list of advocacy, legal, health and other services is available at www.findhelptas.com.au.

Members are reminded of the importance of confidentiality in all Abacus matters.

5.26. Deciding if a Complaint will be Investigated

The determination of whether to investigate a complaint or dismiss it without an investigation as per section 46(1) of the Police Service Act 2003 rests with the line manager of the registering member.  For comprehensive guidance on decisions about complaints refer to Managers’ Responsibilities.

5.27. False Complaints against Police

If at any time during the preliminary assessment or the course of an inquiry / investigation, evidence is identified that suggests that the complaint against police is false, consideration will be given to whether or not a prima facie case exists to commence prosecution of the complainant or witnesses.  The types of prosecution include, but are not limited to:

  • false reports to police – section 44A Police Offences Act 1935
  • fabricate evidence – section 97 Criminal Code
  • pervert the course of justice (or attempt) – section 105 Criminal Code
  • false statutory declaration – section 113 Criminal Code 

Prior to final determination to prosecute a person for making a false complaint, consideration will be given to whether or not there is a reasonable prospect of conviction, noting that the standard of proof is beyond reasonable doubt.

If a person is convicted of making a false report to police under section 44A Police Offences Act 1935 then the prosecution may seek an order from the court under section 44A(2) of that Act for payment of expenses from the person relating to the investigation.


Footnotes: 

[21] Australia/New Zealand Standard 10002:2014 ‘Guidelines for Complaint Management in Organisations’, p30

[22] Adapted from Australia/New Zealand Standard 10002:2014 ‘Guidelines for Complaint Management in Organisations’, p21

[23] Section 44(2)(d) Making Complaints of the Police Service Act 2003 states that a complaint does not need to identify the complainant

[24] Section 44(2)(c) Making Complaints of the Police Service Act 2003

[25] Ombudsman Tasmania: Guidelines for Complaint Handling January 2013

[25] Section 47(3)(a) Determination of Complaints of the Police Service Act 2003

[27] Section 44(2)(b) Making Complaints and section 44(4) of the Police Service Act 2003

[28] Beadle v. Director-General of Social Security (1985) 7 ALD 670)

[29] Australia/New Zealand Standard 10002:2014 ‘Guidelines for Complaint Management in Organisations’, p28

[30] Ombudsman Tasmania ‘Guidelines for Complaint Handling’ January 2013, p4

[31] The Integrity Commission Act 2009 specifically references ‘misconduct’ and ‘serious misconduct’ whereas the Police Service Act 2003 references ‘conduct’. As Abacus is drafted in accordance with the Police Service Act 2003 ‘conduct’ is used throughout.