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Inquiry into Police handling of child abuse cases

22 December 2009

The Independent Police Conduct Authority’s inquiry into Police handling of child abuse cases will cover all of New Zealand, the Authority said today.
The Authority was notified in June of delays in the Police response to child abuse cases in the Wellington District, in particular the Wairarapa. At that time the Authority opted to oversee a Police investigation. In August, the Authority announced that it was conducting its own investigation.

“The Authority has established a dedicated team of investigators and lawyers focusing solely on this inquiry. The assigned investigators have extensive international Police experience,” said Authority Chair Justice Lowell Goddard.

“The Authority has received evidence that there have been delays or issues with management of child abuse cases in districts other than the Wairarapa and is therefore treating this as a nationwide enquiry.”

The inquiry is focused on Police conduct, and Police practices, policies and procedures, in relation to child abuse cases.

It will consider the manner in which child abuse cases are received, prioritised and investigated by Police, and the efficacy of Police practices, policies and procedures, both past and present.

As part of the inquiry, the Authority is conducting an independent audit of child abuse cases throughout New Zealand, and investigating complaints about Police handling of child abuse cases.

People with relevant information, such as Police staff, social workers and staff of child welfare agencies, families and other members of the public, can also make submissions, which will be received in confidence – details are available on the Authority’s website www.ipca.govt.nz/Site/Child-Abuse-Inquiry/.

“The Authority is concerned about past delays in completing investigations,” said Justice Goddard. “Our inquiry will determine the extent of those delays, and what lessons can be learned to ensure that future investigations are completed effectively and in a timely manner.”

The Authority’s inquiry is being conducted independently of Police, who have been working to address a backlog in child abuse cases in the Wairarapa, and are also conducting internal inquiries.

None of the IPCA investigators assigned to the Authority’s inquiry has been a member of New Zealand Police.

The Authority will publicly report once its inquiry is completed.

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