More than 250,000 breath tests were faked over five years in Victoria.
More than 250,000 breath tests were faked over five years in Victoria.

Cops faked 250,000 breath tests

A SHOCKING internal report has revealed Victorian police officers faked more than 250,000 random preliminary roadside breath tests (PBTs) over five years.

The report claims more than 1.5 per cent of 17.7 million tests were falsified by officers, many of whom are believed to have blown into the straw breathalysers themselves to meet quotas or to avoid breath testing motorists.

Victoria Police issued a statement shortly before 8.30pm on Wednesday declaring they had "let the community down".

The statement includes an admission that the practice involves "an officer either (placing) a finger over the straw entry hole or (blowing) into the straw themselves".

"It is believed the self-testing activity has been largely undertaken by general duties and highway patrol members, with some rural areas over-represented," the statement said.

"It is not a practice found to be performed at supervised drug and alcohol bus testing sites."

The activity was first reported to Victoria Police late last year. Once aware of the claims, an intelligence assessment was undertaken that involved "a very complex and protracted" analysis of five years of data, 1500 PBT devices and more than 17.7 million tests.

"Disappointingly (the tests) found 258,463 PBTs or 1.5 per cent of all tests had been falsified," Professional Standards Command Assistant Commissioner Russell Barrett said.

"This conduct will not be tolerated, any member found engaging in this practice from today has been put on notice they will be investigated.

Victoria Police admitted a breach of trust on Wednesday night.
Victoria Police admitted a breach of trust on Wednesday night.

"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."

Victoria Police is in the process of appointing an external investigator to determine "the root causes of the behaviour", "underlying cultural and behavioural issues" and "supervision and management practices that resulted in the behaviour continuing to go unchecked".

"The question we all asked was 'why?' There could be a number of reasons but the main rationale I believe is to hide or highlight productivity," AC Barrett said.

"Whatever reason our workforce may come up with, it isn't acceptable.

"As disappointing as this is, it should be noted that, at this stage in the investigation, there is no evidence to suggest fraud or any criminality has occurred. Similarly, there is nothing to suggest that any of this activity has impacted on any prosecutions."

Police are hoping to lean on technical advice about how to future-proof testing devices.

"In moving forward we are looking into a number of options for improving and increasing our internal controls and accountability in regard to our testing regime," AC Barrett said.

"We are considering the feasibility of regular audits, the ability for the PBT to include the detail of the operator and quality assurance measures."

Victoria Police is in discussions with IBAC about the matter.

rohan.smith1@news.com.au | @ro_smith