How to lodge a complaint
The mission of the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) is to work together with the community to establish a safer environment through the reduction of violence, crime and fear.
Employees of the NSW Police Force are expected to conduct themselves with the highest level of professionalism and integrity ensuring that their authority is exercised responsibly.
You have a right to complain if you are dissatisfied or concerned about your interactions with:
- a NSW police officer
- a NSW Police Force administrative officer
- the NSW Police Force
You may also visit your local police station to try and resolve the less serious complaints such as those involving rudeness or poor customer service. Often the most effective and timely approach for resolving customer service matters is to talk to us.
How to complain
A complaint about the NSW Police Force or its employees can be made to the Commissioner of Police or the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC).
To lodge a formal complaint with the Commissioner of Police you must do so in writing.
To lodge a formal complaint with the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) go to www.lecc.nsw.gov.au. The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission is an independent statutory body responsible for investigating complaints against the police. It has its own independent investigators for these cases. Some less serious complaints will be referred to the police for investigation but, these will be monitored by the Commission's own staff.
In most circumstances complaints received by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission will be referred to the NSW Police Force to investigate (subject to the oversight of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission).
Assistance - If you need help you can contact the Customer Assistance Unit on 1800 622 571 to obtain assistance on how to lodge a complaint.
It is an offence under section 167A of the Police Act 1990 to knowingly make a false complaint or to give false or misleading information during the investigation of a complaint. This is punishable by up to 12 months imprisonment.
It is also an offence under the Crimes Act 1900, punishable by up to 7 years imprisonment to falsely accuse a person of a crime.
What information should you provide?
When making a complaint you should provide as much detail as possible to assist us to respond appropriately to your complaint. The information you should try to include is:
- Your name and contact details (you are entitled to remain anonymous if you wish to do so)
- a detailed description of what happened;
- date, time and location of the incident;
- the names of people involved, or who could otherwise assist us to resolve your complaint;
- the names (if known) of the NSW Police Force employees involved;
- details of any documents, records, witnesses etc, that may assist in the resolution of your complaint;
- what you expect the NSW Police Force to do about your concern; and
- any other information you consider relevant.
How will we respond to your complaint? What can you expect from us?
- You will be treated with courtesy and respect and we will protect your confidentiality you will not suffer any detriment for having complained.
- If you wish to remain anonymous, you may do so, however this will not enable us to contact you if we need to clarify matters or provide you with information about the outcome of your complaint.
- We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 7 business days. An identification number will be given to the complaint and it will be forwarded to a complaint handler for consideration. Once a complaint is received by the complaint handler it will be assessed in order to determine the best course of action. The complaint will generally be handled at your local police station.
- You will be provided with the contact details for your complaint handler who will keep you updated on the progress of the investigation.
- The manner in which a complaint will be dealt with will depend on the nature of the alleged conduct. The NSW Police Force will assess your matter and deal with your complaint by:
- Direct response (e.g. if it is a misunderstanding of a policy, explanation of what occurred).
- Resolution - discussing the complaint with you and the involved police officer
- Investigations - where a formal investigation is conducted.
- More detailed information on how complaints are handled can be found in the Complaints Information section
What the NSWPF asks of you
To effectively manage complaints about its employees, the NSWPF needs your cooperation through:
- providing information that is as specific and complete as possible
- maintaining confidentiality
- having realistic expectations
- If you have any further questions about making complaints about NSWPF officers, please contact the NSWPF Customer Assistance Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 1800 622 571
- Complaint Handling Policy (PDF)
- LECC can be contacted at www.lecc.nsw.gov.au or (02) 93216700. Freecall:1800 657 079.
The manner in which we deal with your complaint will depend on the nature of the alleged conduct and the issues raised.
The New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF) will usually manage your complaint at your local police station and will range, from simply discussing the complaint with you and the involved police officers, to conducting a criminal investigation.
Once a complaint is received it will be assessed and registered within 7 business days. We will provide you with an identification number and it will be forwarded to a complaint handler for consideration. The complaint handler will examine the issues raised and will determine the most appropriate way to manage your complaint. These may include any of the following:
- Direct response
Where the assessment does not identify misconduct or maladministration and relates to a pure service delivery/customer service issue, then the matter could be resolved by way of explanation by direct response.
If the issue relates to a delay in service an explanation regarding the priority of tasks may suffice. Or the complaint may arise due to the misunderstanding of a policy where you question for example the merits of issuing of an infringement notice. You may be advised of the options available to canvass your circumstances, or we may provide an explanation of why the notice was issued.
This process is meant to try and resolve the issues raised by you at a local level by encouraging a discussion between those involved. These types of matters do not require the complexity and formality of a formal investigation. The resolution officer will clarify what the specific issues are and ascertain the outcome you are seeking.
This process is designed to ensure, that your issues are examined by an appropriate level of investigation and discussion with the officer/s involved and that the complaint is resolved in a timely manner. Our aim is to finalise these matters within 45 days of receipt.
Investigations are undertaken by trained investigators who will conduct inquiries to gather all available relevant evidence to prove or disprove the allegations raised. Some allegations may even lead to criminal charges. Investigations of this nature are complex and take longer to complete.
You will be contacted by the investigator who will keep you advised of the progress and time frames associated with the management of your complaint. You will also be provided with the contact details of the officer managing your complaint.
Law Enforcement Conduct Commission
The role of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) is to oversee our processes to ensure we manage complaints in an appropriate manner.
At the completion of an investigation into serious misconduct or serious maladministration, the NSWPF will provide the LECC with a report and the documents which formed the basis of the decision made in the matter.
If it is feasible we will consult with you on the action we intend to take as a result of the complaint, and advise you on the outcome of the complaint, and obtain advice from you on whether you are satisfied with the action taken in response to your complaint.
Where a complaint is sustained the action being taken against the officer can range from remedial action to criminal charges or dismissal from the NSW Police Force.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome or the manner in which your complaint was handled you may raise your concerns with the investigator in the first instance. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you may raise your concerns with the LECC.