The ACT is the only police service in Australia in which the territory's Human Rights Commission has no formal mechanism to receive and investigate complaints against police, an ACT Assembly standing committee has been told.
Should it receive complaints, it has little option but to refer them to the ACT Ombudsman's office which does not have a conciliation capability.
"It is a very big gap," ACT Discrimination Commissioner Karen Toohey admitted.
Appearing before the standing committee on Justice and Community Safety, ACT Human Rights Commission representatives said their ability to investigate allegations was hamstrung by the ACT's police being federal officers, employed under contract from the Australian Federal Police.
The committee has been convened to assess submissions in the lead-up to the development of next year's policing agreement, in which the ACT specifies the contractual conditions and future priorities for the policing service.
The ACT government pays the AFP around $14 million per month for the contracted service.
The long-standing inconsistencies are those in which the federal police, as a Commonwealth agency, avoid the type of direct oversight and scrutiny, particularly in complaint matters and corruption allegations, to which other ACT agencies are subject.
"The local ACT discrimination law does not apply to ACT police as it stands at the moment," Ms Toohey told the committee.
"We are of the view that there should be a mechanism to do that, as we addressed in our submission.
"They [ACT police] are covered by the Australian Human Rights discrimination laws because they are part of the AFP, but unfortunately we [the ACT commission] don't have a lot of visibility over the sorts of matters that go to the federal commission.
"And the [ACT] community feedback is that because it's a federal commission, not local, there is a barrier to people engaging with them.
"That's not a criticism of the [federal] commission by any means, its just acknowledging that people in the ACT community are used to coming to our door or picking up the phone and calling us.
"So to pass people onto another organisation there's the potential for a drop-off so we would be much happier if we had that local coverage."
Ms Toohey said that this issue had been discussed with the ACT police executive "and they understand the benefit of a local resolution focus complaint mechanism".
"This would at least allow us to bring them to the table to talk about the concerns that the community have identified."
One of the long-running concerns around suitable ACT police accommodation, raised in a previous hearing by the police union, was again probed by the committee, which heard $30,000 in funding allocated to assess the future of the shared Gungahlin police and emergency services facility had not yet been spent.
Police Minister Mick Gentleman told the committee that he held regular discussions with police about their accommodation needs, and that in 2019-20, $9 million had been allocated over the next four years to "upgrade and enhance" police facilities.
The size and suitability of the Gungahlin police station to suit the growing needs of that northern community is a continual and thorny issue. Other much-needed accommodation upgrades include the ageing City Police Station and the Traffic Operations Centre which was damaged in January's hailstorm in Belconnen.