A review has found that Tasmania Police took a decade to formally investigate alleged paedophile James Geoffrey Griffin, despite multiple reports being made to police by third parties in that time.
Mr Griffin was a paediatric nurse at the Launceston General Hospital for close to two decades. The first formal police complaint against him was made in May 2019, but the nurse died before facing trial.
In the lead-up to a Commission of Inquiry into child sexual abuse within state government institutions, Tasmania Police initiated an internal review of the investigative processes undertaken in relation to any information received about Mr Griffin's alleged behaviour.
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The findings of that review were released yesterday, identifying "deficiencies" in information-sharing between police and government agencies such as child protection services.
It noted that information reports were made to police in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015 about the alleged behaviour of the nurse. These originated from third parties, rather than alleged victims.
Once a formal complaint was made in 2019, it took roughly three months for the LGH to be notified of the allegations against its employee.
Police Commissioner Darren Hine said police would immediately seek to implement changes to their processes in the wake of the review, with a focus on strengthening the exchange of information.
"We will learn from this," he said. "And we will make changes."
"We will do better for victims."
Following the release of the review's findings, Premier Peter Gutwein offered his "deepest and most heartfelt apology to all victims of past crimes that have occurred in relation to agencies of the state where any agency may not have handled information appropriately".
As a result of the review, Tasmania Police has implemented a specialist investigative and policy team to focus on improving procedures and processes for child sexual abuse investigations.
Other immediate actions to be taken include new protocols for the information exchange between agencies; 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.
In 2011, CFS provided an information report to police regarding alleged historical sexual assaults 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 when asked.
"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 review reads. "The provision of this information was not provided."
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.
In 2013, concerns were raised with police about inappropriate touching and grooming behaviour by Griffin. "Griffin and the potential victim were spoken to by CFS about the allegations and both denied that there was any inappropriate behaviour," the review reads.
"CFS closed the file and police took no further action. Neither Griffin nor the potential victim were spoken to by Tasmania Police."
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, which is now subject to a Professional Standards investigation.
The review also 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 but there was "no evidence of an offence in relation to this report".
Mr Gutwein said he was "very disappointed" and "shocked" by the nature of the review's findings.
He 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 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," he said.
Labor child protectionsafety spokeswoman Sarah Lovell said it wasn't good enough that the information covered in the police review wasn't "acted on with the urgency and the seriousness that was required".
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