The Police Integrity Commission has released a statement that apparently confirms they did not do even the most basic due diligence in investigating evidence of police shredding child abuse material. Despite being given documentary evidence citing a Detective Acting Superintendent from the Sex Crimes Squad that police had shredded the material, the PIC apparently did not even interview the officer.
The admission casts real doubt over the commission’s Operation Protea findings last week about the controversial practice of the church ‘‘blind reporting’’ abuse allegations to police.
We will refer the matter to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“Today’s statement from the Police Integrity Commission shows an unforgivable lack of diligence on behalf of the oversight body.
“The PIC was provided with the police’s own document that recorded a senior officer from the Sex Crimes Squad stating that hard copies of Catholic Church meeting materials concerning reports of child abuse were shredded by the police. Yet it appears the PIC didn’t even interview this senior officer to find out more.
“The PIC’s failure to interview the senior sex crimes squad officer to find out how she got the information casts doubt over key findings on the police involvement in “blind reporting” of child abuse.
“Having not done the most obvious investigation, the PIC then dismissed the police document as hearsay evidence. We should all expect far more from this State’s principal police oversight body.
“The PIC statement admits that the draft minutes and agendas of the Catholic Church Professional Standards Resource Group (“PSRG” the Church body that dealt with reports of child abuse) were destroyed by a police officer.
“The minutes must have included the decisions made on the child abuse matters considered and, if nothing else, this was prima facie evidence of breaches of section 316 of the Crimes Act, as they represent non-disclosure of crucial information related to indictable offences.
“While the police officer who attended the PSRG has stated that “only” the agendas and minutes of the meetings were destroyed and not the edited child abuse reports themselves, the only corroborative evidence relied upon by the PIC came from the Catholic Church.
“Apart from one police officer involved, the principal sources used by the PIC to conclude that no evidence was shredded all came from the Catholic Church, while the police officer named in the document that could corroborate the shredding was apparently not even interviewed as part of the inquiry.
“Given the seriousness of the concerns raised, it is simply inconceivable that this was not a prominent concern in the PIC report into Operation Protea,” Mr Shoebridge said.