Fears child protection not up to strength

THE Queensland Police Service has responded to concern over staffing levels at the Warwick Police Child Protection and Investigation Unit, saying it has the required personnel to do its job.

A local father raised a question over resourcing of the CPIU with the Daily News in April, when he claimed a teenage boy who had admitted to sexually assaulting his young son had not been charged and that the investigation had been inadequate.

The QPS stated it was satisfied with how that matter had been handled.

There are also concerns locally about the length of time some investigations take, such as a current one involving a Warwick man who is the subject of historical sexual assault allegations from four female complainants and which has been running for more than 12 months.

Child Protection and Investigation Units across the state work with juvenile offenders and young victims of crime, investigating child abuse and providing cautioning to children up to 17.

The Daily News sent an inquiry to Police Minister Jack Dempsey asking if he was satisfied that CPIUs across Queensland were adequately staffed, but a spokesman responded that it was an "operational" matter and referred the inquiry to QPS Media.

In a two-line statement a QPS spokesman told the Daily News the Warwick CPIU was "fully staffed with one Detective Sergeant and one Detective Senior Constable".

"The staffing strength is sufficient to attend to all operational duties of the unit," the spokesman said.

Criminologist with lobby group for sexual abuse victims Bravehearts, Carol Ronken, said policing units were "heavily under-resourced", with CPIU officers often having "huge caseloads".

"This is a vital part of our systems to protect children from harm - we need to ensure police are adequately staffed," she said.

"Historical offences can take longer to investigate, with the very nature of these disclosures meaning police have the difficult task of investigating allegations from 10, 20 or 30 years ago.

"It's often a case of piecing together individual's stories and constructing a brief that will hold up in court.

"It's an unenviable job, and police do not want to take a matter to court and put a victim through an investigation for it to be thrown out because of lack of evidence.

"And depending on case loads, historical cases may be given second priority to current matters."


For more information visit bravehearts.org.au.

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