A police whistleblower has revealed how pressure to meet quotas drove fellow officers across Victoria to fake more than 250,000 breath tests.
He says his colleagues were often the ones blowing into the machines, and has blamed their actions on a toxic culture.
Such is the seriousness of this scandal, identities need to be protected.
Some police feel that they have been put in an impossible situation to meet unreasonable target numbers of breath tests.
They believe collecting statistics has taken priority over more productive policing, the whistleblower claims.
“One of the ways is to, you know, place a finger over the actual end of the machine but the most common way is for the member to actually just blow in it,” a police source told 7 News.
“They’re usually brought in end of the quarter, or end of the financial year, and it’s a last minute, last ditch attempt to get a statistic.”
Over the past five-and-a-half years, police have faked more than 250,000 breath tests.
The revelation is a huge blow to one of Victoria Police’s most important public safety programs.
“Victoria Police is incredibly disappointed,” Assistant Commissioner Russell Barrett told 7 News.
“We’ve let ourselves down, we’ve let the community down. We’ve let our road safety partners down.”
There is no evidence of police altering or affecting any real breath tests.
“Our members are targeted, our members are challenged to meet these targets on every div van [divisional van] shift, on every highway patrol shift, every day across the state,” Police Association Victoria’s Wayne Gatt said.
It was the Transport Accident Commission which first tipped off Force Command. It has since suspended the funding of Victoria Police, worth $4 million a year.
“Anything that has the potential to undermine confidence is a concern,” Transport Accident Commission CEO Joe Calafiore said.
The anti-corruption body IBAC was first notified about the fake tests in September last year.
It will wait until the outcome of a police investigation to be led by former Chief Commissioner Neil Comrie, before deciding if further action is needed.
Any move to punish individual police would create serious unrest within police ranks.
“If the members get sanctioned it should be management that get sanctioned, but unfortunately they don’t have any – there’s no come back on them … They are not accountable in any way, shape or form,” the whistleblower told 7 News.