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Anti-corruption inquiry shown graphic footage of police violence towards woman -

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TONY EASTLEY: A Victorian anti-corruption inquiry has been shown graphic footage of a woman being kicked and stomped, while she lies face down in a police cell.

The security tapes from the Ballarat police station were played at a hearing of the Independent Broad Based Anti Corruption Commission, which is investigating whether a systemic culture has developed among local police.

Danny Tran has been following the inquiry in Ballarat.

Danny, how many allegations are Victoria Police facing?

DANNY TRAN: Tony, Victoria Police is facing four allegations of serious misconduct against four women, and all in relation to accusations of heavy handedness and brutality.

We heard about the first of those cases today; a 51-year-old woman who was kicked and stomped on, but over the coming days we'll hear allegations of three other instances and two of those instances, the same officer is involved and is accused of applying a chokehold to women.

TONY EASTLEY: Now you talk about this 51-year-old woman who was taken into custody last year. What does the security footage actually show?

DANNY TRAN: Tony the footage is quite graphic. The woman was taken into custody in January last year. She was arrested for being drunk in public and taken to the police cells, where a scuffle broke out, and she managed to come away with a lanyard of a senior officer.

Now the footage actually shows her being pepper sprayed and taken back to the cell, where she was handcuffed and searched and then it shows her lying face down, handcuffed, and wearing only a top.

Now officers are holding her down and then another officer, Senior Constable Steven Repac, who weighs about 95 kilos, standing on her bare calves, he does this several times before kicking the woman.

There's footage of her being kicked again at a different stage.

TONY EASTLEY: Now police have defended their actions, but there is also been some revelations about Ballarat's significant record of complaints about police officers?

DANNY TRAN: That's correct, in his opening address today, counsel assisting Jack Rush referred to data showing assault complaints against Ballarat officers were three times higher than similar stations in Melbourne.

The stats also showed that Ballarat has a higher ratio of members who had allegations of recorded against them compared to Frankston in Melbourne's outer east, and the majority of complaints were made against more senior members of the force.

And singled out were leading senior constable and sergeant rank and the most frequent complaint allegation was failure of duty.

TONY EASTLEY: Now how have police explained their actions?

DANNY TRAN: The officer, one of the officers in question actually fronted the commission today, Senior Constable Steven Repac, and he defended his actions today by telling the inquiry that the woman was aggressive in her tone and language and he was in a prime position to get kicked.

He said kicking the woman was a knee-jerk reaction, but denied it was deliberate.

Now counsel assisting Jack Rush took issue with this comment.

He said ‘You kicked her deliberately. You didn't have to stomp on her legs, you stood on her legs, changed your position that you stood on her legs and as a passing insult kicked her.’

Senior Constable Repac has denied this repeatedly and told the inquiry that he was worried that he would have been kicked or other members would have been kicked.

‘I wasn't going to take any chances’, he said.

TONY EASTLEY: Now the inquiry of course, today's hearing was the subject of some legal challenges. What was behind that?

DANNY TRAN: That's correct. The inquiry did have a number of legal challenges before it could be openly heard.

The case was planned for last year, but had to be adjourned while some of the officers in question had launched a series of legal challenges to avoid giving evidence in public.

The High Court did rule against them in February, so look here we are, and we'll be hearing from more of them over the coming days.

TONY EASTLEY: Danny Tran, our reporter in Ballarat.