Victoria Legal Aid

What happens at the police station if you have a cognitive disability

If you have a cognitive disability, including an intellectual disability, acquired brain injury or dementia, the police must get an Independent Third Party to be with you while you are interviewed and for certain other procedures.

If you have a cognitive disability, the police must get an independent third person to be with you when the police:

You can also have an independent third person when the police:

  • ask for or take your fingerprints
  • ask for or take a body sample
  • do a bail hearing at a police station with a bail justice (an independent person that decides whether you should be bailed from the police station or taken to court to see a magistrate).


A police officer does not need to get an independent third person when:

  • another person involved in an offence may get away
  • waiting can cause danger to other people
  • the questioning or investigation has to do with drink driving or drug driving.

What is a cognitive disability?

A cognitive disability includes:

  • intellectual disability
  • acquired brain injury
  • dementia
  • autism
  • Asperger’s syndrome.

The role of an independent third person

An independent third person is someone who can help you deal with and talk to the police if you have a cognitive disability or mental illness.

They can help you understand your rights and explain information to you. However, they do not make decisions for you and cannot give legal advice.

If the police do not get an independent third person, the police officer should not use the information you gave them as evidence in court. However, sometimes the magistrate may let the police officer use the information.

Can you choose the independent third person?

It is best to have an independent person who is not involved in your situation with the police. However, you can ask for a family member or a friend to be the independent third person as long as they are 18 or over. The police can also get a trained independent third person from the Office of the Public AdvocateExternal Link .

Other support

Find out how you can other support for your rights when it comes to police powers.

Publications and resources

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at

Reviewed 06 May 2022

In this section