Police accountability

Information on police powers and your rights, and resources to help you make police complaints.

On this page

Typical police accountability problems

RLC provides free and confidential legal advice to people across NSW about police powers.

We also provide advice on decision-making by government agencies and complaints processes administered by government.

We can advise you about issues including:

  • Police harassment
  • General searches
  • Strip searches
  • Arrests
  • Excessive force
  • Failure to investigate
  • Fines, including COVID-19 fines
  • Access to police records

We offer representation in matters involving serious complaints about the police. 

Please note: RLC does not advise on most criminal matters.

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Our services that can help

Group of police stand backs away from camera image tinted orange

Free and confidential legal advice for people across NSW about police powers.
Mural of Aboriginal flag - orange tinted square image

Redfern Legal Centre provides a priority service to First Nations people across all of our legal services.

Other important contacts

How to contact us

To request free legal advice about police complaints, or police and government accountability:

complete our online form call 02 9698 7277

If we are able to advise you, we will arrange for a solicitor to call you back. If we are not able to assist you we may refer you to other services and resources, including those listed below. Learn more about accessing our services.

RLC and Slater and Gordon Lawyers have issued a class action proceeding for people who have been unlawfully searched by NSW Police at all music festivals in NSW since 22 July 2016.
Girl crowd surfing at music festival

Police powers self-help topics

Prior to making a police complaint, it is generally recommended you apply to obtain police records relating to your complaint matter. To obtain police records you must make an application under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW).

If you’ve been stopped or arrested by police this incident may have been filmed. You can ask to see this footage or request that the footage not be destroyed using the templates and information below:

If you are attending a public protest, it is important to know your rights and the limits of police powers.

See also

Harsh new protest laws passed in NSW (March 2022)

Factsheets and links to information to help you deal with fines, or request a review if you believe you have been fined incorrectly.

Fines lawcodes

Type in the fine lawcode/ offence code which is usually located on the penalty notice to see details of the offence on the NSW Lawcode Database.

Search lawcodeS

Law reform updates

Girl crowd surfing at music festival

RLC and Slater and Gordon Lawyers have issued a class action proceeding for people who have been unlawfully searched by NSW Police at all music festivals in NSW since 22 July 2016.

Police accountability news

RLC in the media

A report by researchers at UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Crime, Law and Justice (CCLJ) has condemned the overuse of COVID-19 fines during the NSW Delta wave in 2021.The report was commissioned by Redfern Legal Centre (RLC), the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and The Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS).
Police officer fines to police car in traffic
RLC in the media

Data obtained by Redfern Legal Centre, via the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW), reflects a clear bias involved in the way that NSW police officers are applying personal searches.
White Police van  with blue writing that reads Police Sydney City LAC
RLC in the media

Witness photos and videos can hold law enforcement to account. Two programs, Copwatch and Fair Play, support minority communities with using this method to address police misconduct safely and legally.
Blurred image of police standing on a road behind a strip of blue and white police tape

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Gadigal Land, PO Box 1805,
Strawberry Hills NSW 2012