Hundreds of cases of child sex abuse going back decades may be reopened after the Catholic Church publicly abandoned a controversial practice known as blind reporting.
Blind reporting occurs when an organisation passes on an allegation of child sex abuse, but strips the report of the name of the victim, meaning police are unable to investigate the report.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge has obtained documents under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws that, for the first time, reveal the extraordinary extent of blind reporting, which has potentially allowed hundreds of perpetrators to continue to abuse children.
The ABC has spoken to child sex abuse victims who are angry the allegations they reported to the Catholic Church some years ago were never fully reported to police.
The figures obtained by Mr Shoebridge reveal during the past eight years, NSW Police have received 1,476 blind reports from NSW organisations.
Many relate to the Catholic Church.
“The blind reporting process has at its heart a really obscene conflict of interest,” Mr Shoebridge said.
“One of the key problems with blind reports is that the police’s own protocol says when they get a blind report they don’t investigate it.
“They just file it as criminal intelligence and that means perpetrators are not being brought to justice.”
The practice has also attracted criticism from the NSW Ombudsman.
Deputy Ombudsman Steve Kinmond warned: “We could have over a thousand reports that may be on the wrong side of the law.”
The NSW Police have refused to reveal whether they still actively encourage blind reporting, despite a recommendation from the NSW Police Integrity Commission last year that the practice should be reviewed.
The FOI documents show there was a huge increase in the numbers of blind reports passed to police since the start of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The royal commission will today hold a public roundtable that will examine the lawfulness of the longstanding practice of blind reporting.
Between 2005 and 2009, a total of 53 blind reports were passed on by organisations to the NSW Police sex crimes squad.
In 2012, that number increased to 256 blind reports, and by 2013, organisations passed on 460 blind reports to police.
Victim’s statement never passed on to police
Victims of child sex abuse are now speaking out against blind reporting.
One of those victims, who wants to be known only as Denise, is the niece of notorious paedophile Denis McAlinden, whose crimes were concealed by the Catholic Church for decades.