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Coked-up cops exposed in Vic investigation

AAP logoAAP 12/12/2016

Coked-up cops would send each other joking texts about their drug use and another was building a "sophisticated drug syndicate" a Victorian anti-corruption investigation has unearthed.

Police partying on ice, cocaine and ecstasy would meet up with known traffickers, peddle drugs themselves and return positive tests, says an Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission special report.

The report takes in three investigations into claims of drug possession, trafficking and use by police since 2014 and says allegations against eight officers have been substantiated.

Operation Apsley revealed a group of police were using drugs regularly in their social lives - including one who used cocaine "most days" for four months last year.

The officer, known as Senior Constable A, and a friend, Senior Constable B, used and trafficked drugs and were "cavalier about the safety risks", the report says.

Both told IBAC they would not work if affected by drugs, but messages between them refuted these claims, including this exchange after a night out using cocaine:

Senior Constable A: "Feeling slightly average but okay. Gonna be a long shift. Rad night."

Senior Constable B: "Kill me, I wanna lay down."

Another senior constable messaged a civilian associate about putting MDMA powder into capsules - "Now that you run a sophisticated drug syndicate you will be... essstremely bizzy" was the reply.

Two other IBAC operations also exposed regular drug use with one that focused on a constable leading to that officer's brother being arrested by federal and interstate police on drug offences.

While IBAC says allegations against eight were substantiated it says they were likely just "snapshots of a more widespread and serious problem for Victoria Police".

Of those eight officers:

- Two were charged with giving false evidence, misleading or attempting to mislead IBAC, and inciting a witness to mislead IBAC, and one was charged with criminal drug offences.

- One has been dismissed, three have resigned, three are suspended and one returned to work after an admonishment notice.

There are systemic deficiencies in Victoria Police's illicit drug prevention and detection, IBAC concludes.

"Police officers cannot be selective in choosing which criminal laws they will obey," IBAC Commissioner Stephen O'Bryan QC said in a statement.

"While most of the police officers investigated were aware they were engaging in illegal conduct, they rationalised their off-duty criminality as being separate to their obligations as police officers."

Victoria Police's alcohol and drugs policy says illicit drug use is not tolerated but there is ambiguity about the consequences, IBAC says.

Police have accepted the recommendations and are reviewing their practices and policies, a Victoria Police spokesman said in a statement.

A progress report is due on June 30 and Victoria Police must provide IBAC with a final report by June 30, 2018.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said drug use has "no place" within the force.

"This investigation related to a small group of police officers, and Victoria Police has since taken appropriate action through criminal, disciplinary and management interventions," she said in a statement.

Police Association secretary Ron Iddles denied there was a systemic drug problem within Victoria Police, but conceded the eight instances didn't come as a "total shock".

"Our members are susceptible to more pressure and stress than the average member of society," Mr Iddles said in a statement to AAP.

He said the report showed health and wellbeing services available to Victoria Police's 15,000 members needed to be improved.

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