It has been revealed that the NSW Police were warned twice by its own lawyers that an intelligence sharing arrangement with the Catholic Church in regards to child abuse allegations was illegal.
In 1996 mandatory reporting laws came into force in NSW as a result of the Woods Royal Commission. The Catholic Church was legally obliged to report directly to the police about any incidents of child sexual assault.
Problems arose when alleged offenders were going to be met by police. Often they were recalled to the Vatican or deployed elsewhere before police could interview them.
In response to these issues a police officer sat on an internal Church body called the Professional Standards Group. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the NSW police and the Catholic Church was drawn up.
This MOU was contrary to the Crimes Act which requires disclosure of all information which might assist in the investigation of a crime. Clearly special privileges were given to the Catholic Church and as a result perpetrators of child abuse would have gotten away with their crimes.
Both the police and the priests involved in this scandal need to be held to account.
By Gary Duffy