Resolving or escalating disputes? Experiences of the NSW police force complaints process

Jane Goodman-Delahunty, Alan Beckley, Melissa Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 1997 the NSW Police Force implemented a complaints process on the recommendation of the Wood Royal Commission. Client advocates and legal practitioners who represent disadvantaged clients reported client avoidance of the complaints process as a form of dispute resolution and, when it was used, dissatisfaction with the outcomes. Using a mixed-method survey with input from Community Legal Centres New South Wales Inc, the experiences and perceptions of 493 New South Wales practitioners about the complaint process were examined. Results revealed widespread dissatisfaction and mistrust in the process, more extreme among those with personal experience using the system. Reasons for avoiding the system included a perceived lack of independence in complaint investigation, ineffective communication between police and complainants and experiences of victimisation by the police after making an official complaint. Recommendations to improve the use of the process include creating more opportunities for informal dispute resolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-90
Number of pages12
JournalAustralasian Dispute Resolution Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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