Police Admit Faking More Than 250,000 Roadside Breath Tests
Disciplinary action for offending officers may be coming.
What you need to know
- Victoria Police falsified over 250,000 roadside breath tests over five years
- "This is widespread behavior," confirmed Assistant Commissioner Russell Barrett
- Former Chief Commissioner Neil Comrie has been tapped to lead the investigation into why this occurred
- $4 million in funding from the Transport Accident Commission has been suspended
- Tests may have been falsified to meet quotas set at a local level
Victoria Police have tapped former chief commissioner Neil Comrie to lead an investigation after it was revealed that police had faked almost a quarter of a million roadside breath tests over a five-and-a-half year period.
Fronting media today, the new head of Victoria Police's Professional Standards Command, Assistant Commissioner Russell Barrett, confirmed that the falsification of tests was "widespread" across the state.
As a result, $4 million in annual funding from the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) -- some of which is used to purchase roadside breath tests -- has been suspended.
"Let me be clear, these are not isolated occurrences," said Barrett. "This is widespread behavior. Victoria Police is incredibly disappointed. It's incredibly poor behaviour by our members."
"We have let ourselves down, we have let the community down, we have let our road safety partners down."
The issue was first brought to light when the TAC queried some anomalies in the data late last year, where a suspicious number of breath tests were being conducted in quick succession.
An internal investigation of 17.7 million tests found that 258,463 tests -- about 1.5 percent -- were falsified.
A directive issued to all members of Victoria police on Wednesday night said that the practice will "stop and stop immediately".
Former Chief Commissioner Comrie has been brought in to oversee the next stage of the investigation, which will look into why this occurred.
Questions of quotas have been circling since news broke on Wednesday.
Barrett denied that Victoria Police sets quotas at a local level, but said that "if local managers set a target for members, then that's a matter for local areas."
While he said he did not know about specific quotas, when pushed, he admitted that "certainly and in principal" quotas would be set at a local level.
He also wouldn't rule out the possibility of disciplinary action for officers caught falsifying the data, but said that would be a matter for the investigation, which will be overseen by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).
Meanwhile, Victoria Police will be undertaking an "unprecedented" workplace guidance program, visiting every single police station and every single officer in the sate.
"We have tarnished our reputation in the eyes of the TAC and in the eyes of the community," said Barrett. "We can't walk away from that."