Inquiry Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Force
- Alternative Names
- Paedophile Inquiry
- Wood Royal Commission
- Inquiry Type
- Royal Commission
- Australia; New South Wales
- May 1994
- Announcement date
- 13 May 1994 - 30 Jun 1997
- Period of operation
- 18 March 1996 - March 1997
- Public hearings
- 26 August 1997
- Final Report
The Royal Commission into the New South Wales (NSW) Police Service was established to investigate the existence and extent of police corruption in the state. In December 1994, the Inquiry was expanded to include investigation into the protection of paedophiles by NSW Police. The focus of this part of the Inquiry was to assess the depth and gravity of the overall problem of paedophilia, to identify deficiencies in the impartiality and adequacy of the responses of police and other public officials, and to make recommendations for reform. This part of the broader Royal Commission was referred to as 'The Paedophile Inquiry'.
The Royal Commission held public and private hearings, interviews with victims and offenders, and informal and formal discussions with experts, police and other authorities. Research, surveillance and undercover operations were also undertaken and public submissions were received.
Royal Commissions Act 1923; Royal Commission (Police Service) Act 1994; Royal Commission (Police Service) Amendment Act 1994.
State Government of New South Wales
The Royal Commission was held in the Australian state of NSW.
For the Paedophile Inquiry, the Royal Commission held public hearings to examine the adequacy of a range of police investigations in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. It also held hearings into churches and clergy, the handling of abuse allegations by the Department of School Education, into activities in the city of Wollongong, the Health Care Complaints Commission, the Community Services Commission, the Department of Community Services, the Department of Juvenile Justice, crisis accommodation provided at Caretakers Cottage, the Child Protection Council, pre-trial diversion programs, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Department of Corrective Services, the Seabeach Kindergarten, the Special Branch, the Department of Health, and the Internet. Evidence was also taken from various experts, both in Australia and internationally.
In camera evidence was taken.
The Paedophile Inquiry undertook case studies in relation to specific claims, or organisations or past investigations.
95 submissions are listed in the final report, but this does not include confidential submissions. Survivors are not clearly delineated in this list.
The final report mentions four people who prepared commissioned research for the Royal Commission but their work was not directly related to the Paedophile Inquiry. The Royal Commission had an internal research branch.
The report mentions informal conversations with experts.
243 witnesses listed but survivors are not listed as a separate category. In addition to survivors witnesses include family members, judges, police officers, public servants, service providers, religious leaders and experts.
It is not clear from the lists but in the report it is stated that males predominated.
Institutions examined include police, judicial system, churches, state government departments, schools, community groups and carers.
The Inquiry found that paedophiles present in many guises and sexual orientations. It concluded that the phenomenon is widespread, but the response to the problem has been piecemeal and inadequate.
140 recommendations were made. Key recommendations include the establishment of specialised units within the police and Department of Community Services; improved selection, screening and training for personnel across a range of government and non-government organisations, law reform around gender neutral language, judicial procedures and creation of new offences; support and treatment services for victims and offenders, an ongoing public awareness campaign, introduction of a register of offenders and extensions to mandatory reporting, and the creation of a Children's Commission.
The cost of the Royal Commission is not detailed in the Report. Media reports estimate it to have been in the order of $64 million.
- Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Force, 1997. Also available at https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/20238051. Details
- Royal Commission into the NSW Police Service Interim Report, February 1996. Also available at https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/21834723. Details
- Royal Commission into the NSW Police Service Interim Report: Immediate Measures for the Reform of the Policy Service of New South Wales, November 1996. Also available at https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/18712495. Details
- 'Holding Judgement', Sydney Morning Herald, 9 June 2007. Also available at http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/holding-judgement/2007/06/08/1181089328815.html. Details
- Cossins, A, 'A Reply to the NSW Royal Commission Inquiry into Paedophilia: Victim Report Studies and Child Sex Offender Profiles A Bad Match?', The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, vol. 32, no. 1, 1999, pp. 42-60. Details
Acknowledgement: this summary was prepared by Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University