Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT
Tabled paper 934
Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
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59 CHAPTER 7 POLICE CONDUCT Complaints about Police conduct are addressed in detailed provisions of the Ombudsman Act. Conduct of a police officer is defined as any decision or act, or a failure to make any decision or do any act, by the police officer for, in relation to or incidental to, the exercise of a power or performance of a function of a police officer. The focus is therefore on conduct relating to the exercise of police functions rather than private conduct. The Act requires the Commissioner of Police and the Ombudsman to notify each other, upon receipt of a complaint, and to provide details of the complaint. It provides a framework for the investigation of complaints against Police and defines the role of the NT Police Standards Command (the PSC). The provisions of the Act are supplemented by a detailed Police Complaints Agreement entered into between the Commissioner of Police and the Ombudsman under section 150 of the Act. The agreement, as in force at 30 June 2018, is set out at Appendix A of this Report. During 2017/18, my Office received 545 approaches relating to Police conduct. This was a substantial increase in the number of approaches received in the two previous years 443 and 498 respectively. HOW POLICE CONDUCT APPROACHES ARE DEALT WITH Once a complaint against Police is determined to be within jurisdiction, the complaint is assessed in consultation with the PSC, according to the level of response considered necessary. Careful consideration is given to the potential seriousness or importance of the complaint, whether it is appropriate for the Police to deal with the matter in the first instance, and the responsible allocation of resources. The classification of complaints is intended to be flexible and, if necessary, may be changed according to the results of enquiries/investigations to hand. The final decision on the classification of a complaint rests with the Ombudsman. Different ways of dealing with approaches relating to Police conduct are discussed below. Enquirer assistance and preliminary inquiries Many issues raised with the Office can be addressed simply by the provision of information. A person may be making enquiries about the scope of the Ombudsmans powers and processes or may be calling to seek information for a friend. They may be enquiring about an issue that is beyond the powers of the Ombudsman, for example, a court decision. In other cases, NT Police can deal with minor matters as customer service inquiries that do not require classification as complaints. In addition, there are matters where the Office will conduct preliminary inquiries with Police and determine that there is no basis on which to further pursue an enquiry or complaint.