The VGSO has a long history of providing independent and authoritative legal advice in operational matters pertaining to policing and emergency management. We understand the legislative and operational environments and the political sensitivities to partner our clients and their objectives.
Our team working with clients in these sectors hold the appropriate security clearances, with many having years of experience assisting in highly confidential police and emergency service matters. We have a highly motivated team of lawyers and support staff with legal expertise in advising on these matters.
Since 1937, the team of VGSO solicitors has been co-located with Victoria Police and provided independent legal advice to the office of the Chief Commissioner of Police.
Arrest, search and seizure
We advise on powers of arrest under statutes such as the Crimes Act 1958, as well as the statutory and common law powers, with and without warrants, to enter and search premises, search persons, and seize goods.
Authorisations and delegations
We advise on:
- draft and settle instruments of delegation
- draft and settle instruments of authorisations made pursuant to numerous enactments under which the Chief Commissioner of Police has duties, functions or powers.
Criminal law offences
We advise on either the identification of possible criminal offences that warrant further investigation in the early stages of an investigation. Alternatively, whether the evidence on a brief of evidence is sufficient to institute charges at the completion of an investigation.
Criminal law procedure and evidence
We advise on police powers to conduct forensic procedures, including the taking of fingerprints of adults and children and the taking of bodily samples, under statutes such as the Crimes Act 1958.
Human rights law and policing
We advise Victoria Police on a range of matters where human rights issues arise, including:
- policies affecting human rights
- the rights of suspects in police custody
- the rights of accused persons in criminal proceedings
- privacy implications of releasing Victoria Police information
- potential offences under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 and the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.
We apply for intervention orders on behalf police officers. On behalf of police officers acting in the course of their duties, we also respond to intervention order applications brought by members of the public (for example, for alleged stalking by the police member).
We advise Victoria Police on its statutory privacy obligations, both under specific privacy legislation, including
- Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014
- other legislation that regulates the disclosure of information, such as the Health Records Act 2001
We also advise on information-sharing arrangements between Victoria Police and departments and law enforcement authorities.
We advise on policing roles and powers in sometimes volatile public order environments including:
- industrial disputes
- the scope of police powers to prevent breaches of the peace
We also advise on police powers to enforce civil orders and warrants, for example warrants of possession.
Under the umbrella of road policing, we advise on diverse issues including:
- impoundment and seizure of vehicles
- drug and alcohol testing
- road rule exemptions for police
- heavy vehicle national law
- Road Safety Act 1986 offences generally.
Subpoenas and disclosure (including public interest immunity)
We assist Victoria Police to respond to numerous subpoenas and pre-trial disclosure requests requiring production of sensitive police documents, often in a compressed timeframe. This involves a measured (but all too often urgent) consideration of public interest immunity claims to sensitive police documents.
We conduct summary prosecutions where Victoria Police has either a conflict of interest or, for reasons of special sensitivity or complexity, Victoria Police wishes to engage specialist lawyers to conduct a prosecution.