Submissions to independent review into Paul Reynolds now open
Submissions are now open in relation to the independent review about former police officer Paul Reynolds.
Ms Regina Weiss, a highly respected barrister with vast experience in leading independent reviews, is calling for witnesses or members of the public to share knowledge, experiences or information which relate to Paul Reynolds from now until 30 November.
Commissioner Donna Adams said that the independent review was instigated by Tasmania Police and was not a recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry.
“I recognise that the Tasmanian community feels let down by the Paul Reynolds matter and I apologise to all victim-survivors and Tasmania Police staff affected,” she said.
“I want the community to have confidence in our police service and that is why I believe this review is an important step forward in rebuilding trust.
“While the scope of the independent review will focus on Paul Reynolds, it’s important that concerns from anyone about child sexual abuse by any police officer – whether that be information regarding direct offending or inappropriate use of power – are heard.
“As Commissioner, I want to know so I can take the necessary action.
“I want to assure the community that this process will be confidential, trauma-informed and managed at arm’s length from Tasmania Police by the independent reviewer.”
Commissioner Adams said that the Terms of Reference provided a broad remit that goes above and beyond the recommendations of the CoI and covered Paul Reynolds’ entire career.
“The review will assess if there was misconduct in anything that he did while a police officer, whether he used his position as a police officer to groom or sexually abuse children and whether there was any other misconduct by other police officers in investigating Reynolds,” she said.
“In addition, Ms Weiss will also receive information relating to any allegations of child sex abuse by any police officer including information regarding a police cover-up.
“If Ms Weiss determines that she requires a broader scope, that will also be considered.”
Commander Adams said that the 2008 matter involving Paul Reynolds did not have independent oversight as is required of current investigations that are now reported to the Integrity Commission.
“The Integrity Commission Act came into force in 2009, and reports with regard to commissioned officers that are investigated are now required to be notified at the commencement of an investigation and the Integrity Commission must be informed of the outcome,” Commissioner Adams said.
“The Integrity Commission can also monitor or audit any police Professional Standards investigation.”
Commissioner Adams said that she had complete confidence in Ms Weiss to conduct a thorough independent review and provide recommendations that will further improve Tasmania Police’s responses.
“This is just one of many steps we have and will continue to take to ensure that victim-survivors reporting sexual crimes continue to be treated with dignity and their reports are appropriately investigated and managed,” she said.
Since the Commission of Inquiry, Tasmania Police has already begun the process of implementing change, including:
- significant changes to the Tasmania Police Manual to include very clear guidance and direction when dealing with child sexual abuse
- reviewing and refining 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
- strengthening relationships with partner agencies to enable more timely intervention for children at risk and provide better outcomes for victim-survivors
- improving sharing of information with key government agencies, including information regarding child safety to ensure appropriate responses and actions are undertaken when information relating to child sexual abuse is received
- implementing new mandatory family and sexual violence response training for police, which has been rolled out since January 2023
- The opening of two multidisciplinary Arch Centres to provide victim-survivors of sexual violence with coordinated wrap around supports. Planning is underway for a third Arch Centre in the North-West.
Commissioner Adams said that changes had been made to the Tasmania Police Manual to ensure the Commissioner of the day must consider any Professional Standards investigations as part of the decision-making process for a police funeral.
Tasmania Police is also expanding the Professional Standards Family and Sexual Violence Involving Police Review Committee (which is independently chaired) to include oversight of all sexual assault and child sexual abuse allegations involving police members, reflecting our shift to become more trauma informed in how we respond to victims.
Members of the public can provide written submissions, anonymously if they wish, and/or register interest in a private session.
All submissions will be treated as confidential, unless otherwise agreed.
Ms Weiss plans to conduct private sessions in the north, north-west and south.
Dates for these sessions will be publicised once finalised.
Anyone who wishes to make a written submission or register their interest in a private session should email email@example.com
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.