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Police, Fire and Emergency Management - James Griffin

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 9 September 2021

Tags: Police, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, in relation to the James Geoffrey Griffin matter, I asked you a question in parliament on 1 September about what was being done to address the failures that were apparent in the Tasmania Police internal review of police actions in relation to that matter. You outlined a number of specific recommendations that were made in that report. I asked you how they were being actioned.

You said that the protocols for the information exchange between Tasmania Police and the Department of Justice had been developed and we've just heard Ms Adams talk about that. You said that the child abuse guidelines had been completed and are being used and in terms of notification and investigation, that the registration and Working with Vulnerable People protocol and MOU with Child and Family Services has been finalised. The other area related to recommended amendments to ensure appropriate responses and action are undertaken when either party receives information relating to child sexual abuse.

I didn't hear you specifically respond to that recommendation; I might have missed it. In your answer you said -

There are clear areas for improvement by Tasmania Police and other government agencies. I am sure that where these have not already been acted on they have been addressed as a matter of priority.

You've listed a number of things that have been completed and finalised. What things in relation to this matter and recommendations are still being addressed? What is the process for addressing them and the time frame for that?

Mrs PETRUSMA - Regarding the review and the memorandum of understanding between Child and Family Services and Tasmania Police and recommending amendments to ensure appropriate responses and actions are undertaken when either party receives information relating to child sexual abuse, that has been finalised and is now in operation across the departments of Justice, Communities Tasmania, and Tasmania Police.

As the Deputy Commissioner outlined, the positive impact of this work is evident from advice received from the register for Working with Vulnerable People who reports a significant increase in notifications from all sources but particularly since Tasmania Police's work on this has commenced.

Dr WOODRUFF - There is nothing outstanding from the recommendations that were made in that report?

Mrs PETRUSMA - No. That has been done.

Dr WOODRUFF - One of the recommendations that I didn't see anything about related to the relationship with the Australian Federal Police. In 2015 an information report from the Australian Federal Police relating to Griffin and child and sexual offending and child exploitation material was received by Tasmania Police. It is not clear from the internal investigation whether there was a problem with acting on that report at the time. It sounded like it from my reading of it. I do not see anything in the recommendations for actions that related to the relationship between the Tasmania Police, the Australian Federal Police and providing response times or actions to increase the communication between those two jurisdictions. Could you speak to that, please?

Mrs PETRUSMA - I know that there is a close relationship between Tasmania Police and the AFP because they are working in response to child exploitation, for example, and terrorism but I will ask the Commissioner to outline the protocols they have in place.

Mr HINE - I will hand over to the deputy in a minute. We have a really close working relationship with the AFP. As you are probably aware, the AFP actually work in our building. We have joint teams in relation to child exploitation; they have a national centre as well which we contribute to.

In relation to that the technology issue that we experienced back in relation to the Griffin matter, that has been fixed, as it should be. We are investing significant resources to make sure that we support the community and deal with these issues in a more collaborative way, without any interference whether it is a technology issue. I will go back to the deputy to get down to some of the granular issues you are referring to.

Ms ADAMS - As the Commissioner has said, we have a very close relationship with the Australian Federal Police and we do numerous joint operations in regard to child exploitation material. It is a significant priority for both organisations. In this instance there was a technology issue which I think resulted in information in relation to Mr Griffin not being shared in a timely manner. That was subject to a professional standards investigation and I think the minister has publicly stated and provided the outcomes to that professional standards investigation. However, I am happy to provide the information that one officer was reprimanded, one officer received counselling and one officer continuing professional development in relation to their care and handling of that particular investigation.

Dr WOODRUFF - It was officers in Tasmania Police, not officers in the Australian Federal Police service? There was a deficiency in the management, a failure to act at the Tasmania Police end and not at the Australian Federal Police end?

Ms ADAMS - That is correct.

Dr WOODRUFF - Have any protocols or guidelines been established to require that there is a reporting back time frame with Australian Federal Police information that is provided? A check in the system to make sure that stuff that is coming in is acted on and back with the AFP?

Ms ADAMS - We have had two significant changes that have happened since this incident occurred. One is our Atlas, a contemporary information sharing database which has replaced a very end-of-life ageing system. That is the most significant change since the information transfer between the Australian Federal Police and Tasmania Police. The other is that all of the guidelines for investigating child sexual abuse have been redeveloped and put under one easy access spot for detectives to be able to get that information. All detectives have been reminded and basically retrained in the expectations as a result of redoing those protocols.

Mr HINE - We have formed a common intelligence command as well which has a child exploitation section within that. It works closely with the AFP to make sure that those gaps do not exist.

Dr WOODRUFF - Could you table those protocols and guidelines that have been established?

Ms ADAMS - I wouldn't be providing the internal guidelines.

Mrs PETRUSMA - We do not want people to know what happens behind the scenes.

Dr WOODRUFF - On the response to the failures in Tasmania Police and the recommendations and actions that are following from that, you said the response has been the development of protocols and guidelines in order for the community to have complete confidence because it was seriously affected by these failures. There's no question about that for the survivors. In order to have confidence that they will be always listened to, always believed and always have action taken, can you provide the guidelines for action so it's very clear?

Mrs PETRUSMA - I believe all of that information has been provided to the Commission of Inquiry so that the Commission of Inquiry is aware of the protocols and the guidelines that are in place. I will ask the Commissioner to provide further information.

Mr HINE - About the methodologies that we use, we should definitely keep that internal. From the process from the AFP, if they get information, then how they transfer that information and how we train police officers, how we deal with the information, maybe -

Dr WOODRUFF - But it could simply be as simple as, if a woman turns up and makes a complaint to a police station anywhere in Tasmania, what will happen from the police side of it? Which part of it will be investigated? How soon will they find out about their case? How will they be followed up? That would be really valuable information for women to encourage them to feel confident to come forward. I think they feel there is a blackhole and they are not sure. We need to regain the confidence of women in the community to come forward. These are not the only cases, unfortunately.

Mr HINE - It sounds like you're talking about a public campaign. Every case is different, as we all understand, but whether going to the Smithton police station or the Hobart police station to report a matter you should get the same level of service.

We provide that training to our police officers and if there are any issues then we need to act on that. As the minister said, we've provided all the information to the commission of inquiry and we are also doing some work alongside that to have a different system or set up how we investigate these matters.

I hear what you're saying. We want to make sure that people feel comfortable to come to police and get the support that they need. I hear what you're saying and if we can give some information to the parliament in relation to what the process may or may not be, to give more confidence to the community -

Dr WOODRUFF - I think it's giving it to the women of Tasmania not just to parliament. That would be good if you can reflect on that and think about how you're going to restore confidence in that regard.