honest

It should be emphasised that we as a Department unquestionably believe that the interests of the child victim must be paramount. Police Officers are, by Statute, charged with the responsibility of deciding when to prosecute but at the same time, they have been provided with discretionary powers on when to act.

The Police Officer should keep in mind the priorities of his responsibility, firstly, he must protect the child.

Secondly he gathers evidence for possible prosecution.

When confronted with a case of obvious suspected Child Abuse, a Police Officer will not take unilateral action except in emergencies.

In most instances prior discussion will take place with other professionals in the Team and Senior Officers within the Department in relation to proposed Police action.

As the welfare of the child is paramount there is a less immediate need to commence proceedings against the abusing parent or parents. Whatever the eventual decision whether to prosecute against parents or not it seems appropriate the decision be made in concert with plans for the care and assistance of the abused child and other children that may be in the family.

To that end it seems the better course for the Police Officer is to delay proceedings against the parent so long as there is no immediate pressing need to take action on the spot.

Neighbours of the abused child, Medical personnel and Teachers are often the key figures in this first step of the corrective mechanism. Unfortunately there is often a great deal of reluctance to report suspicions about Child Abuse. It is of relevance in our discussions to record a case in Los Angeles where the Police Department was sued for failure to take appropriate action after having been notified that a child within its jurisdiction, was the victim of abuse.

Many Social Workers and others who work closely with Child Abuse cases feel that wherever possible, it is better to attempt to correct abusive behaviour counselling and other means rather than seek Criminal prosecution and I fully support that approach.

This policy has been in operation since 1980 and I am very pleased to say that I think, and many others seem to think, that it has operated quite successfully.

The Police Force of Queensland, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a servant of the people of the State and it is charged with carrying out their wishes and expectations. Of course that doesn’t mean that we can carry out the wishes and expectations of every one of the 2,500,000.

And the efforts of course of Police Officers must be directed towards those objectives.

More children with problems are known to the Police than any other agency since we are the only community group with a State wide, twenty four hour field service. Police Officers talk with children, many of their parents and they do visit thousands of homes each year. Law enforcement and Welfare Services are therefore ideally aligned to deal with parental failures and to assist children from these families who exhibit delinquent tendencies.

The same may be said of the location of Child Abuse.

The fact remains that Child Abuse can be a problem in almost any family at any time. … It has been found that the offender has almost been a victim of abuse in his or her childhood and by virtue of the abusive behaviour is ensuring that his or her offspring are likely to become child abusers in their turn in the next generation.

This violence in the family is also extremely costly to the Police Department. The manpower resources used and ladypower, I’d better be careful hadn’t I, the resources presently used in investigation could be far more profitably channelled into areas of prevention because we certainly have I think as many ladies as men engaged in investigating this type of problem…..

An extension of this approach has been the creation of an extremely specialised Child Abuse Unit within the Bureau which has served to allay those fears in the wider community which I canvassed earlier. …..The Department has thrown its resources behind procedures which identify the need for preventative measures, for public education and for more wide ranging research.

This of course has been done on the basis of strict priorities which govern the allocation of Police manpower and other resources. In an expanding State such as Queensland demands on our scarce resources are made virtually from every area of our State and from practically every squad within the Department and most of the requests are urgent and are continual. So any suggestion that the strength of the Juvenile Aid Bureau be further augmented must be carefully considered in the light of State wide Policing needs because at the moment just to fill the vacant spots around our State I would need 525 extra Police now and I can assure you that I haven’t got any one person in any one of our 350 establishments around the State who tells me that they have more than they need and nobody’s prepared to forgo any member to enable us to put them somewhere else…..

I do hope that I have covered in this Paper the question posed in the title — “ Child Abuse — Is Police Involvement Necessary?’’ Police Officers have an integral role which is no less important than that of any other professional in the protection of children,

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