IBAC’s Operation Gloucester public hearings conclude and identify significant issues with police practices

IBAC’s public hearings into Victoria Police practices when taking witness statements has heard testimony that improper practices had occurred and may still be occurring.

The hearings focused on Victoria Police’s witness statement taking practices and compliance with the obligation to disclose evidence during the Lorimer task force investigation into the murders of Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rodney Miller, as well as other Victoria Police investigations.

IBAC Commissioner The Honourable Robert Redlich QC said: “Improper practices by Victoria Police in preparing witness statements and non-compliance with their obligations to make full disclosure to prosecution and defence during the Silk-Miller murder trials has emerged during IBAC’s hearings.”

Commissioner Redlich said IBAC’s Operation Gloucester investigation was appropriate for public hearings as irregular witness taking practices has the potential to adversely impact the integrity of criminal investigations and the delivery of justice in summary hearings in the Magistrates’ Court and in trials in the County and Supreme Court.

“The public hearings were not a ‘reopening’ of Victoria Police’s Operation Lorimer, which investigated the Silk-Miller murders,” Commissioner Redlich said.

“While witness taking practices in the Lorimer investigation prompted this inquiry, the public hearings examined past and present practices beyond Lorimer.

“The IBAC public hearings are an important part of our work to expose corruption and police misconduct, and importantly, also inform corruption prevention efforts.

“I expect that the evidence presented at these hearings will now result in Victoria Police examining their training programs, practices and also the current police culture that enables the identified improper practices.

“Police have significant powers, and the community rightly expects them to always use these powers responsibly and perform their duties fairly, impartially and in accordance with the law.

“It is therefore important to thoroughly analyse these practices particularly as it is evident from the testimony provided at our hearings that such practices are still occurring.”

The hearings heard evidence from 34 witnesses and 376 exhibits were tendered.

Held over four weeks, and concluding today, the public hearings are part of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission’s (IBAC) Operation Gloucester investigation.

The Commissioner also acknowledged the support and attendance of the Silk and Miller families during the public hearings.

Operation Gloucester is an ongoing investigation. Anyone with information relevant to the investigation is encouraged to report it now at www.ibac.vic.gov.au/report or call 1300 735 135.

A public report on Operation Gloucester is expected to be tabled to Parliament in 2019.