Only most serious matters investigated by Vic IBAC

By Anna Macdonald

May 19, 2022

parliament house victoria
James Merlino, Martin Foley, Lisa Neville and Martin Pakula have resigned their positions as frontbenchers in the Victorian state government. (Image: Adobe/FiledIMAGE)

Independent Broad-Based Anti-corruption Commission Victoria deputy commissioner Kylie Kilgour has described the ongoing Operation Bredbo as the sort of serious conduct IBAC ‘grabs and runs with’.

During Wednesday’s virtual seminar Who assesses the integrity of Victoria Police?, as part of Law Week, discussion focused on how IBAC priortises its limited resources as a public sector agency, particularly when it comes to referring a matter back to Victoria Police.

“Like all public bodies, we are resource-constrained. And government is resource-constrained with respect to how much funding they are able to give us, which means that we do have to have cutoff points about what we’re investigating… in the vast majority of cases, the referrals that we’re making back to Victoria Police are at the more minor end of the misconduct scale,” Kilgour said.

IBAC is holding public hearings as part of Operation Bredbo, to investigate a detective sergeant accused of being involved in civil debt collection while on duty. 

The limitations of IBAC were further acknowledged by its team leader investigations Christine Stafford.

“We can’t chase every rabbit down every hole,” Stafford said. “It’s important that you focus your resources to get the best effect out of our investigations.”

The deputy commissioner rejected the premise of a question asking if IBAC could be a truly independent agency if 98% of complaints about police were being investigated by Victoria Police, as reported by the ABC back in 2018

Kilgour reiterated resource constraints, saying IBAC couldn’t investigate ‘every single matter’. 

“Whether that’s in police or also more broadly across the public sector,” Kilgour said, “The design of the oversight system here — as well as in many other jurisdictions — relies on oversight agencies, often zeroing in on the most serious and systemic corruption or misconduct issues for their investigative effort and relies on referring other investigations to agencies themselves.”

New conflict of interest provisions were going to be released, the deputy commissioner confirmed, citing the importance of maintaining public trust regarding even potential perceptions conflicts of interest.

Stafford cited clear communication between Victoria Police and IBAC as the main key to keep police accountable, while Kilgour advocated for prevention and education of police.  

Part of the session announced a new advertising campaign titled ‘You have the right not to remain silent’, encouraging members of the public to get in touch with IBAC about any incidents they’re aware of police corruption or misbehaviour. 

“The public are our best resource,” Stafford commented. 

The advertising campaign is set to go live next week, and will be on social, radio, print, as well as targeted toward regional areas.

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