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Complaints about Police


I think the police have treated me unfairly – can I make a complaint?

Although the police in South Australia have special powers, there are also rules they have to follow when they are using them. If you think police have treated you unfairly or have broken their own rules, you can make a complaint about them. 

Different things can happen if you make a complaint. For example the authorities you contact might just decide to talk about the complaint with you, or they may decide to investigate or discipline the officer. In other words, it doesn’t always happen but police can get in trouble with the law too.

You might want to complain about a police officer if they:

  • intimidated you
  • were unreasonable or unfair
  • hurt you
  • damaged your stuff
  • asked for a bribe
  • did something else that was inappropriate or improper
  • discriminated against you:

If you feel that the police discriminated against you because of your age, race, sexuality, gender identity, religion or other personal characteristic, you may need to make a complaint to an anti-discrimination body in your state or territory.  If this has happened to you, please send us a Lawmail and we can give you advice about who you can make your complaint to.

What should I include in my complaint?

If you want to make a complaint about the police, it’s a good idea to give as much information as possible so that the person looking at your complaint can look into what has happened.  You don’t have to give your name, but if you want a response, then it’s a good idea to include it.  Things you should include in your complaint are things like:

  • your name and contact details
  • where the incident happened
  • what time it was
  • the name of the officer who was involved
  • the station the officer was from (if you know it)
  • names of any witnesses that were there
  • what happened – try to give as much detail as possible
  • any documents you have to back up your complaint
  • what you want from the complaint – an apology, reimbursement for damage etc

You should make sure you sign your complaint if you are putting it in writing, and keep a copy of it. If you are sending it by email, you should keep a copy, for example by taking a screenshot on your phone or computer. 

How do I lodge a complaint?

You can make a complaint to the Police Ombudsman SA.  The application from is available at  You will need to either email it or post it to

Address: GPO Box 464 ADELAIDE SA 5001

If you want to talk to someone about the process of making a complaint, you can contact the Police Ombudsman on (08) 8226 8677(08) 8226 8677.

This page was last updated on the 31st of May 2015

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