Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER, Mr GUTWEIN
The Tasmania Police internal review of police actions in relation to James Griffin is a catalogue of repeated failures to act to protect children and adults from sexual assault and predation over a 10-year period.
Police received information from interstate police about Griffin photographing children in 2009. In 2011 a report was provided from child and family services detailing his sexual assaults on two child victims. In 2013 child and family services notified police that Griffin had been grooming children and touching them. In 2015 the Australian Federal Police (AFP) advised Tasmania Police of Griffin's sexual offending and use of child exploitation material. Despite these repeated allegations about the same man, it was not until in 2019, for the fifth time, that police acted and charged Griffin. Only then was his Working with Vulnerable People registration cancelled, three months after that last victim came forward.
This internal review is chilling to read. Tasmanians need to be confident police will act swiftly and protect them from sexual predators and abusers. You could act today to restore confidence and follow Victoria's lead to establish a permanent standalone unit within Tasmania Police that investigates child sexual offence and child abuse crimes. We need a holistic specialist unit that prioritises the needs of victims. Premier, will you commit your Government to investigating the establishment of such a unit immediately?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Franklin for her question and for that suggestion.
On Friday I announced additional support to ensure we could look for those touchpoints across agencies, that we can have that historical review. We have provided $1.5 million to establish that review process.
Regarding the way police currently deal with these matters, my understanding is that there is a unit for this type of crime and the way the police follow these processes through. The issue was raised regarding the time frame from when the report was made in 2019 until when the charge was laid. The Commissioner of Police on Friday explained very carefully that they worked with the victim, who was not at risk because it was historical, to ensure they had a sufficient body of evidence to enable them to charge and then proceed should it have gone to a court to gain a conviction.
That was the time frame to ensure that as a result of that investigation the opportunity for justice was not prejudiced. Regarding your suggestion, I am happy to look at what Victoria has in place. I am not aware of what structures they operate. I will ask the police commissioner to provide me with advice on the Victorian model compared to what the Tasmanian model is. If there are opportunities to improve that, of course I will be happy to look at resourcing that and ensuring that we provide something if there is an alternative that can improve the circumstances of the victims. We will look at every opportunity we can. I will take that advice and ask the Commissioner of Police to provide information.