Royal Commission into Abuse in Care report may be delayed – again

Royal Commission

For the third time, Royal Commission into Abuse in Care survivors have been told those writing the Commission’s report won’t meet the set deadline.

The high-level inquiry covering children abused while in state and faith-based care was due to present its report on 28 March.

Why the delay

The Department of Internal Affairs which is preparing the report is intending to ask Parliament for an extension to the deadline.

The Department’s Secretary, Paul James (pictured), says Internal Affairs has been responsible for providing administrative support for five Royal Commissions.

It has “never managed to deliver one on time and on budget” he says.

“They are very complex and often put together under a real point of pressure; something’s happened or there is an issue that needs the highest possible level of scrutiny outside of the court system.”

He says there are two factors behind the delay in completing the report.

One concerns the inquiry’s enormous scale. The other involves a legal hurdle.

“There has been a live legal challenge, a judicial review, running in respect of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care at the moment” James says.

“Some of those things make it hard to hit the reporting deadlines or stated budget.”

Inquiry chairperson Coral Shaw has previously said the scale of abuse is far greater than anyone imagined when the inquiry began.

Right now, besides writing the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care report detailing historic abuse, others at Internal Affairs are working to keep today’s children safe.

Online child exploitation increasing

Reports show that online child sexual exploitation is increasing here in New Zealand and gobally.

The National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children referred 18,598 reports of child exploitation material to New Zealand agencies.

That is a 283 percent increase in the period from 2021-2023 compared to 2018-2020.

2023 statistics from the Department’s Digital Child Exploitation Team show it undertook 47 investigations into child exploitation.

The investigations turned up 2,966,773 pieces of ‘material’ and 209 seized devices.

In addition, the Department blocked over 1 million websites known to harbour child sexual abuse material. It received nearly 20,000 illegal material referrals as well.

Between January and December 2023, the Digital Child Exploitation team:

· undertook 47 Digital Child Exploitation investigations

· successfully prosecuted 15 offenders; the remainder are still going through the legal process

· helped safeguard 35 children from sexual abuse in New Zealand

· identified 414 child victims as part of international joint operations

· seized 209 devices

· categorised 2,966,773 pieces of material

· blocked 1,149,570 websites known to harbour child sexual abuse material

· received 18,461 referrals from NCMEC to NZ Police, the Department of Internal Affairs and NZ Customs Services

· received 921 referrals from the public and 348 referrals from other NZ agencies


Additional reading

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