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Complaints about Police

Disclaimer: The material in this factsheet is a general guide only. It is not legal advice. For legal advice about your own particular situation we encourage you to call the Free Legal Helpline on 1300 366 424. The legal information was correct at the time of publishing, but may change without notice.


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.   If you would like to make a complaint or find out more then contact the Office of the Police Ombudsman. They will help you make a complaint.

Different things can happen if you make a complaint. For example the place you complain to 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; or
  • Did something else that was inappropriate or improper.

How do I make a complaint?

You can make a complaint to the Police Ombudsman. 

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.


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.  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 and any other details about the officer;
  • 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; and
  • 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. 

You can call the Free Legal Help Line for help with your complaint on 1300 366 424.


What if the police officer discriminated against me?

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 the Equal Opportunity Commission of SA or the Australian Human Rights Commission

Call the Free Legal Help Line for help on 1300 366 424 to find out more about making a discrimination complaint.