Victoria’s acting police chief has admitted hundreds of officers may have been involved in fake roadside alcohol breath tests.
Wendy Steendam said it was possible drug tests were also affected, and quotas could be to blame for the falsified tests.
Professional Standards Command Assistant Commissioner Russell Barrett said no fraud or criminality was involved, and motorists were not affected.
Former Victorian police chief commissioner Neil Comrie will lead an investigation into why over a quarter of a million tests were faked over the past five years.
Victoria’s acting police chief has admitted hundreds of officers may have been involved in fake roadside alcohol breath tests (stock image)
Wendy Steendam (pictured) said it was possible drug tests were also affected, and quotas could be to blame for the falsified tests
Officers simulated tests by either placing a finger over the straw entry hole or blowing into the straw themselves to ‘for a productivity gain’.
‘It’s possible,’ said Ms Steendam when asked if hundreds of officers could be involved by Neil Mitchell on 3AW.
‘If you can fake a breath test, couldn’t you fake drug tests, too?’ asked Mitchell.
‘Anything’s possible, Neil,’ Ms Steendam replied.
Mitchell also grilled Police Union boss Wayne Gatt, who said ‘Oh, I reckon there are,’ when asked if breath test quotas exist.
An audit of more than five years of tests by the force’s Professional Standards Command found 258,463 out of 17.7 million, or 1.5 per cent, had been falsified.
‘It’s very disappointing that I have to stand before you today and announce some incredibly poor behaviour by members of Victoria police,’ Mr Barrett told reporters on Thursday.
‘Our reputation is tarnished in the eyes of the TAC and the Victorian community. We can’t walk away from that.
‘It’s very disappointing that I have to stand before you today and announce some incredibly poor behaviour by members of Victoria police,’ Professional Standards Command Assistant Commissioner Russell Barrett told reporters on Thursday (pictured)
‘The TAC has suspended funding of our operations at the current time and we are currently working through that with them.’
Victoria Police receives about $4 million each year for the TAC, Mr Barrett said.
He added the main culprits behind the falsified breath tests were general duties and highway patrol officers, with some rural areas over-represented.
‘There was no criminality, no fraud, in our view,’ Mr Barrett said, adding tests administered to motorists were not affected.
When asked about quotas, Mr Barrett said quotas were not set by Victoria Police at a local level, but left to local area commands.
‘This conduct will not be tolerated, any member found engaging in this practice from today has been put on notice they will be investigated,’ Mr Barrett said on Wednesday.
‘I had not heard of our members engaging in such a practice, we let ourselves down, we’ve let the community down. It stops now.’
‘It’s possible,’ said Ms Steendam (pictured with former prime minister Julia Gillard) when asked if hundreds of officers could be involved
The audit considered complex algorithms together with considerations on the length of time it would take to administer one test and a succession of tests to reach its conclusion.
The audit did not find evidence of the practice at supervised drug and alcohol bus test sites.
‘I don’t think we can move away from the fact that it would enhance productivity of certain individuals, it would enhance their reputation if they were seen to be more productive,’ Mr Barrett said on Thursday.
Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission is overseeing the investigation into the scandal, to be led by Mr Comrie.
‘Give the widespread nature of the behaviour, we need ensure no conflicts of interest can be levelled at Victoria Police in its investigation of itself,’ Mr Barrett said.
All police officers will receive workplace guidance while the investigation considers what underlying cultural and behavioural issues, and supervision and management practices, let the fake tests go unchecked.
Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission is overseeing the investigation into the scandal, to be led by Mr Comrie (stock image)