Civil Litigation Against Police in Australia: Exploring its Extent, Nature and Implications for Accountability
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Much recent policing reform has been concerned with strengthening organisational and individual accountability through complaints, discipline systems and external oversight. Civil litigation against police has largely been ignored as an accountability measure. This research aimed to broaden the understanding of police litigation in Australia, and determine the implications for its use as an accountability mechanism. While the findings are not definitive, they generally conform with previous research outcomes that most cases initiated by civilians involve allegations of police abuse of power or process corruption. A new finding is that police sue their own organisations at about the same rate as they are sued by members of the public, although primarily for unfair dismissal. The results show a need for more detailed research, but highlight that civil litigation can form part of a regulatory web for identifying, controlling and preventing police misconduct.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology