A lack of shared information between police and child protection services and deficiencies in management hindered investigations into alleged paedophile James Geoffrey Griffin, an internal review has found.
The outcomes of a review examining the "adequacy and appropriateness" of police actions in response to allegations made against Griffin to police over more than a decade have been handed down.
The internal review details the handling of four third party information reports received by Tasmania Police between 2009 and 2015 in regards to Griffin, a former paediatric nurse at Launceston General Hospital, along with one formal complaint made in 2019.
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"The full review contains highly sensitive and identifying information about victims and in accordance with ... legal advice, will not be released ahead of the [commission of inquiry]," Police Commissioner Darren Hine said this morning.
Other immediate actions to be taken through the review include new protocols for the information exchange between departments; a review of the Memorandum of Understanding between Children, Youth and Families and Tasmania Police; and a review of police guidelines for investigating child sexual abuse.
The review's findings
In 2011, CFS provided an information report to police, advising of historical sexual assaults made by Griffin on two unidentified victims.
The review notes CFS, which at the time was a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, did not supply details of the person reporting the information or the names of any victims.
"Tasmania Police requested further information from the CFS in accordance with the MoU governing child protection matters that was in place at the time, and in accordance with the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997. The provision of this information was not provided," the review reads.
It notes that police did not pursue resolution options available under the MoU to make a further request for the information, or consider other investigative options.
"The review found that Tasmania Police investigations were hindered by a lack of information sharing," it reads.
In 2013, concerns were raised with police about inappropriate touching and grooming behaviour by Griffin.
"The matter was referred by police to CFS in accordance with the MoU," the review reads.
"Griffin and the potential victim were spoken to by CFS about the allegations and both denied that there was any inappropriate behaviour.
"CFS closed the file and police took no further action. Neither Griffin nor the potential victim were spoken to by Tasmania Police."
The review found although the roles and responsibilities of CFS and police were articulated in the MoU, there was a need for "further clarity" regarding the roles and responsibilities of each agency.
Tasmania Police also received an information report from the Australian Federal Police in 2015, relating to Griffin and sexual offending and child exploitation material.
The review identified deficiencies in the management of this information by Tasmania Police.
This is now subject to a Professional Standards investigation, relating to the Police Service Code of Conduct.
"As this is an ongoing investigation it is not appropriate to provide further details. However, when the investigation is complete it will be provided to the Commission of Inquiry," the review reads.
The review found the actions and subsequent investigation of police in regards to a 2009 information report about Griffin, made by an interstate police agency, were appropriate.
The report, which alleged photographs of children had been taken by Griffin in a public place, was subject to an investigation by Tasmania Police.
"There was no evidence of an offence in relation to this report," the review reads.
The review also found the police investigation in response to a 2019 victim complaint against Griffin was appropriate.
The victim reported to police in May 2019 that sexual offences had been made against them some years earlier.
"Police informed the Department of Justice Working With Vulnerable People on 28 July 2019 for suspension of Griffin's WWVP registration," the review reads.
"His registration was suspended on 31 July 2019, and a search was conducted on this date.
"On 31 July 2019 the Launceston General Hospital was advised of the police investigation and that Griffin had possession of child exploitation material."
Griffin was charged in relation to the first victim, with more victims also coming forward.
However, after being charged with historical sexual offences, Griffin died in October 2019 and the criminal investigation ended.
Premier Peter Gutwein said he was "very disappointed" by the nature of the review's findings.
"I am shocked, to be frank," he said.
"The Tasmanian people need to understand that this has simply firmed my resolve, along with the commissioner's, to ensure that, as we work our way through the commission of inquiry, that this job is done once and it's done right and, importantly, that we protect our community moving forward."
As a result of the review, Tasmania Police has identified three immediate actions:
- New protocols for the information exchange between the Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management and Department of Justice for Working with Vulnerable People checks.
- Review the MoU between Children, Youth and Families and Tasmania Police, and recommend amendments to ensure appropriate responses and actions are undertaken when either party receives information relating to child sexual abuse.
- Review and refine Tasmania Police guidelines for investigating child sexual abuse. This will ensure information relevant to these investigations is consolidated into a single protocol for ease of reference by police.
Longer term, a review of broader information sharing arrangements across government agencies will be conducted.
Mr Gutwein also announced the allocation of an additional $1.5 million to establish an historic complaints review process, which he said would be led by a specialist team within Tasmania Police.
"This will complement the additional measures outlined in the police report," he said.
"This team will focus on conducting a review, initially into police and Communities Tasmania files, looking for potential perpetrators where there may be multiple information reports or references relating to an individual that have been made by third parties.
"It's my expectation that no stone will be left unturned."