POLICE sources have revealed that up to a third of preliminary alcohol breath tests (PBTs) in the south-west may have been “falsies” in systemic abuse by officers.
An audit has shown that 250,000 of 17.7 million tests statewide over the past five years are suspected of being falsified by officers.
South-west police say that PBTs were systematically abused because officers were required to perform up to 50 a shift, despite sometimes crushing workloads.
A review of PBT tests will now be conducted by former Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Neil Comrie.
This week Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer said in a video message to all officers that the practice of false tests had to stop.
"I get that some of you might be worried about what might happen and more of you are worried about being tarnished with reputational damage around doing false PBTs when you haven't done it," he said.
"The line in the sand has been drawn and this behaviour has to stop and has to stop now."
For many years police have been required to do up to 50 tests a shift, despite whatever else was happening on their shift, such as crime, trauma, people suffering mental health issues and family violence.
There have also been suggestions that the Transport Accident Commission funding of Victoria Police has been tied to the number of PBTs conducted, which is why police hierarchy has pushed for so many tests.
Police say that at some remote country stations, officers would be lucky to see 50 cars in a shift.
Long-serving south-west officers have recalled that in the past, when vehicle registrations had to accompany tests, members recorded the numbers plates of passing cars and other registration details were obtained from caryards.
Meanwhile, south-west police will be out in force targetting speed, driver distraction, non-compliance with restraints, fatigue and impaired driving as part of Operation Regal over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.