Independent Third Persons
About this page
"ITPs play an invaluable role supporting people with a disability when they are at their most vulnerable, while helping enable more effective communication with Victoria Police members." - Public Advocate Colleen Pearce
Independent Third Persons (ITPs) are volunteers who assist people with a cognitive disability or mental illness during interviews, or when giving formal statements to Victoria Police.
The person with a cognitive disability or mental illness may be an alleged offender, victim or witness.
ITPs are trained by OPA to:
- facilitate communication
- assist the person to understand their rights
- support the person through the process.
How do ITPs perform their role?
ITPs help ensure a person with a cognitive disability or mental illness is not disadvantaged when communicating with police.
A person with a cognitive disability or mental illness may have difficulty:
- comprehending complex issues
- processing information quickly
- understanding legal rights
- responding to suggestive questioning
- communicating with people in positions of authority
An ITP provides support and helps assist in the communication between a person with a cognitive disability or mental illness and the police. An ITP cannot instruct the person on how to deal with the issue they are facing and cannot provide legal advice. However, an ITP can help by:
- providing assistance to contact a lawyer, relative or friend if requested
- helping the person understand their rights and any legal advice given
- ensuring the person understands the questions asked by police
- asking the police to rephrase a question if they believe the person may have difficulty understanding what is being asked
- requesting a break during an interview if the person is becoming distressed, or unable to concentrate
ITPs will inform police if they observe that the person does not fully understand their rights or circumstances at any stage of the process.
Victoria Police members are responsible for contacting an ITP. An ITP can also be requested, at any time, by the person with a cognitive disability or mental illness, or someone close to them.
If you have any queries or need advice regarding the ITP Program during business hours, call 1300 309 337 and ask for the ITP Program Coordinator.
Video Independent Third Persons
Watch the Independent Third Persons video online (20 mins).