Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Leader
The Minister for Police must immediately initiate an independent investigation into Tasmania Police’s conduct in relation to Senior Sergeant Paul Reynolds.
The Minister and the Police Commissioner must also apologise to the Tasmanian community for the fact a full police funeral was held for Reynolds after his death, despite clear evidence at the time that he was a paedophile.
The Commission of Inquiry Report has shone a spotlight on Tasmania Police’s handling of child sexual abuse complaints against this senior police officer. The conduct of police in this matter raises the most serious questions about why no action was taken against him, and how Paul Reynolds was allowed to get away with predatory criminal sexual behaviour towards children for more than a decade.
The fact a paedophile was the Officer in Charge of Prosecution for Tasmania Police across the Western District, the entire north-west and west of the State, raises disturbing questions. The community have a right to understand what role Paul Reynolds played when allegations of child sexual abuse were made to police, and whether there is any potential he influenced the outcomes of such complaints, including potentially perverting the course of justice.
Senior Sergeant Reynolds lived and worked in close proximity to Ashley Youth Detention Centre, along with many of the centre’s staff – some of whom are known to have abused children. This context adds further deeply concerning questions about the web of connections Reynolds was involved in, and his influence as a senior police officer.
The only appropriate way of answering these questions is through an independent investigation of police handling of complaints. This investigation should be conducted by a senior judicial figure from interstate, empowered to pursue any matter it deems fit, and able to refer individuals for prosecution.
Such an investigation should also consider the circumstances surrounding the decision to venerate Reynolds as a hero by giving him a full police funeral, complete with a laudatory speech from the then-Police Commissioner. This was done despite material evidence and history of Reynolds’ paedophile activities.
Tasmania Police need to give a full apology to victim-survivors and the wider community for their appalling decision to give Reynolds this honour. Police Commissioner Donna Adams’ has defended that decision, stating the "full extent of his conduct was not known at that stage". This is not believable. According to the Coroner, the police had already “found a significant amount of material obviously indicative of predatory criminal sexual behaviour” prior to Reynolds’ death.
Tasmanians need to hear an unqualified admission of wrong-doing and a full apology from police.
For genuine cultural change to occur, Tasmanians must be confident complaints of child sexual abuse will not be ignored or denied.
While the Government, and Tasmania Police, might want to move on and close this ugly chapter, there will be a dark cloud over both until this matter is fully, independently investigated and an apology made. The sooner both can happen, the better for everyone, and we hope the Minister and Police Commissioner will act immediately.