Commission of Inquiry – Paul Reynolds
An independent review, headed by experienced Tasmanian-based barrister Ms Regina Weiss, is underway in relation to the conduct of former police officer Paul Reynolds.
Commissioner Donna Adams said today that over the past week, Tasmania Police had considered the extensive Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Abuse in Institutional Settings, including the Paul Reynolds matter.
“Tasmania Police proactively disclosed information to the Commission of Inquiry in relation to Paul Reynolds and allegations about him,” she said.
“The Commission independently assessed this information and found there were failings in the initial investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse, and the decision to hold a police funeral following his death in 2018.
“We accept this finding and we are implementing in full the recommendations from the Commission with respect to this and other matters.”
Commissioner Adams said that an immediate review of the Tasmania Police Manual had been undertaken. The manual has been amended to include a requirement for the Commissioner of the day to consider any current Professional Standards matters as part of the decision-making process for holding a police funeral.
“As I’ve said previously, the decision to hold a police funeral was wrong and one we regret. I sincerely apologise to all victim survivors and all Tasmania Police staff for this decision,” she said.
“It’s critical that we learn from our past failings, and do whatever we can to ensure such serious allegations against a police officer are appropriately investigated.
“As a result, an independent review, headed by Ms Weiss, is now underway to assess whether Paul Reynolds used his position as a police officer to groom young people and commit child sexual abuse.
“The review, which is being conducted in a trauma-informed way, will also assess whether there has been criminal misconduct in his handling of matters reported to him or investigated by him during the course of his career, with particular focus on his tenure at the Deloraine Division and Prosecution Services.
“The review will also consider if there was any misconduct by police officers involved in the investigation of any allegations against Paul Reynolds.
“All information that was proactively provided to the Commission of Inquiry will also be provided to Ms Weiss to consider as part of her review.
“Victim-survivors or members of the community are encouraged to report concerns or provide information regarding the behaviour of Paul Reynolds.
“I acknowledge the importance of our community having trust and confidence in Tasmania Police, and in the interests of transparency we are ensuring the review is undertaken as a matter of priority.”
Ms Weiss commenced her legal career in Tasmania as Associate to the Honourable Chief Justice Alan Blow, before becoming a Federal Prosecutor and moving to The Hague prosecuting war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.
From 2016-2021, Ms Weiss led the legal teams of Federal Government agencies Sport Integrity Australia, the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority and the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.
Ms Weiss has also conducted various reviews into allegations of historical abuse in sport as independent counsel, acts for plaintiffs in institutional abuse matters and advocates human rights globally.
“Ms Weiss is highly regarded and suitably qualified to undertake this important independent review. This review will be extensive and is expected to take some months to complete in order to fully consider all information and evidence,” Commissioner Adams said.
Commissioner Adams said that Tasmania Police had already begun implementing Commission recommendations including expanding the Professional Standards Family and Sexual Violence Involving Police Review Committee (which is already independently chaired) to include oversight of all sex offence allegations involving police members, reflecting our shift to become more trauma informed in how we respond to victims.
“I want to be transparent, open and accountable to ensure that the public has trust in our processes and our people,” she said.
“Tasmania Police welcomes the independent examination of this matter and welcomes any opportunity to ensure the transparency and accountability of our organisation.”
At the conclusion of the review, a report will be prepared by Ms Weiss that outlines the outcomes of the review including any misconduct findings and any recommendations regarding policy and practise reforms for Tasmania Police.
This report will be made public.
More information including the Terms of Reference is available here: https://www.police.tas.gov.au/commission-of-inquiry/
* If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual violence, please call the state-wide Sexual Assault Crisis Line 24/7 on 1800 697 877. If you or someone you know is impacted by family violence, please call the Family Violence Response and Referral Line 24/7 on 1800 633 937. In an emergency, always call 000.