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Seeking Justice: An Inquiry Into the Handling of Sexual Offences by the Criminal Justice System

NCJ Number
Date Published
227 pages
This document discusses an inquiry into how the Queensland (Australia) criminal justice system deals with sexual offenses.
An inquiry was conducted on the training, expertise, and supervision of police officers investigating sexual offenses; the adequacy of existing guidelines and procedures for the initiation and discontinuance of the prosecution of sexual offenders by police and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP); and the appropriateness of, and circumstances in which the publication of identifying information about a person charged with a sexual offense should be suppressed. Written submissions were received from 8 governmental departments and agencies, 10 legal organizations, 10 community organizations, 2 media groups, 3 academic groups, and 39 individuals. Several general issues were raised at the inquiry. The first issue was how the disclosure of sexual abuse occurs, how that information is received and recorded, and the general implications of disclosure within a legal framework. The second issue was whether there should be a statute of limitations for the prosecution of historic sexual offenses. The third issue was concerns about the committal process and whether committal proceedings should be conducted by police prosecutors or the ODPP. Another issue was the time taken for matters to progress through the criminal justice system and the potential impact of these delays on victims and accused alike. There is a need for more victim support throughout the criminal justice process. There is also an inadequacy of the resources of the criminal justice system to handle sexual offenses. Recommendations include the requirement of specialist sexual offense training for all officers working in child abuse; the rewriting of the Police Service’s Operational Procedures manual; a review of recruitment, selection, and rotation policies of all specialist sexual offense squads; and regular meetings to discuss the progression of sexual offense matters under investigation and before the courts. 7 appendices, 188 references