Police services and accountability
Code of conduct
The Queensland Public Service has a single code of conduct, which all members of the Queensland Police Service (QPS) must follow.
The code contains ethical principles. Each principle has an associated set of values and standards of conduct police officers are expected to maintain.
The principles are:
- integrity and impartiality
- promoting the public good
- commitment to the system of government
- accountability and transparency.
Queensland police must also comply with all relevant legislation, awards, certified agreements, subsidiary agreements, directives, whole-of-government policies and standards.
More about the code of conduct.
Programs and initiatives to ensure police accountability
The QPS provides programs and initiatives to ensure that its members remain professional and ethical in their dealings, including:
- an internal complaint system
- a corruption prevention plan
- policies on gifts and benefits
- an internal audit function
- discipline and ethical awareness training.
The ‘Standard of practice’ supplements the ‘Code of conduct’ and also outlines appropriate behaviour for staff including a statement of ethics.
Client Service Charter
The QPS has a ‘Client service charter’, which states what kinds of services the community can expect from the QPS. It outlines the QPS’s expectations of both its own performance and the community.
Ethical Standards Command
The goal of the Ethical Standards Command (ESC) is ensuring that the community has full confidence in, and respect for, the QPS. The ESC manages the internal discipline process, and promotes ethical behaviour, discipline and professional practice.
The ESC comprises 5 areas, which focus on strategies such as deterrence, education and systems improvements to promote ethical conduct throughout the organisation. These areas are:
- Ethical Practice Branch
- Inspectorate and Evaluation Branch
- Internal Audit
- Legal and Policy Unit
- Internal Investigations Branch.
ESC also works closely with the Crime and Misconduct Commission and other statutory bodies to achieve its aims.
More about the Ethical Standards Command.
Crime and Misconduct Commission
The Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) improves integrity and reduces misconduct in all Queensland's public sector agencies, including the QPS.
It handles serious complaints of official misconduct about the Queensland police.
Official misconduct is when a police officer:
- is not honest or impartial
- breaches the trust placed in them
- misuses official information or material
- commits a criminal offence
- breaches codes of conduct justifying dismissal.
Read more about the Crime and Misconduct Commission.
Making a complaint about the police
If you are unhappy with the conduct of a police officer, you may make a complaint to either the Queensland Police Service (QPS) or the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC).
The QPS deals with customer service issues and breaches of discipline e.g. if you are unhappy with how the police responded to your call or you believe an officer has been rude to you.
For more serious matters (e.g. you believe a police officer’s conduct is unlawful or improper) you can complain to either the QPS or directly to the CMC. The CMC works with the QPS to ensure the police service’s integrity and accountability. It has extensive powers to investigate the most serious cases of misconduct by Queensland’s police officers.
Before making a complaint
Before making a complaint you should be sure you have a valid grievance. Consider whether it is the conduct of the officer, or the law they have enforced, that you are unhappy with. Remember it is a police officer’s job to enforce the law, whether you agree with the law or not.
Don’t make false complaints
False complaints are treated very seriously; they waste public resources and may unfairly damage the reputation of the officer or officers concerned. If you make a complaint about a police officer, knowing it’s not true, you may be prosecuted.
Making a complaint
You need to provide as much detail as possible about the matter if you have a valid complaint. This will help the QPS or CMC investigate your complaint and decide how it can best be dealt with. Your complaint should include:
- what happened
- when it happened
- where it happened
- who said what to whom
- whether anyone saw what happened, other than yourself and the police (provide witnesses’ contact details if you can)
- whether you have proof of any damage, injury (such as a doctor’s report) or any other evidence that supports your complaint (e.g. photographs)
- whether you have reported the matter to any other agency.
You should also say what you expect to result from your complaint. For example are you:
- seeking an apology
- expecting changes in police procedures to prevent a similar problem happening
- expecting disciplinary action to be taken against the officer concerned?
You should also provide your contact details so the QPS or CMC can ask any follow-up questions or tell you how your complaint was dealt with.
Do I have to give my name?
You don’t have to give your name; however, anonymous complaints without supporting evidence are more difficult to investigate. If you do not want to provide your name, then provide an alias and a contact point so your complaint can be fully investigated.
You should not be afraid to provide your name. The QPS and CMC will investigate your complaint impartially.
Where to register your complaint
The best way to make a complaint is in person at your local police station. Expert officers will collect all the details we need to investigate your complaint.
You can also make your complaint in writing. Either mail your complaint—including the details outlined above—to:
State Coordinator ESC
Qld Police Headquarters
200 Roma Street
BRISBANE QLD 4000
You can also email your complaint to: State Coordinator ESC firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making a complaint directly to the CMC
You can also make a complaint directly to the CMC by telephone, fax, email, by post using the CMC complaints form or in person at CMC’s offices (by appointment only).
Find out the CMC’s contact details.
Find out more about the CMC.
What happens after I have made my complaint?
Complaints against police officers are taken very seriously. The matter will be thoroughly investigated and a decision will be made about the best way to resolve the matter.
Minor matters are usually handled informally through managerial resolution and mediation. A police officer will discuss these options with you.
Managerial resolution is when the officer’s supervisor or manager discusses your complaint with you and the officer in question. The supervisor or manager will then devise a way to address any inappropriate behaviour.
Mediation involves you and the officer meeting together with trained independent mediators to discuss your complaint. This allows you both to give your views on the matter in a neutral and confidential setting.
Will I be told the outcome of my complaint?
As long as you provide your contact details with the complaint the QPS or the CMC (depending on which agency dealt with the matter) will tell you in writing how the matter was handled and the outcome.