15 Aug 2009

Abuse case backlog not affecting safety - commissioner

6:54 am on 15 August 2009

Children's Commissioner John Angus says while a backlog of uninvestigated child abuse cases is concerning, he is confident the welfare of abused children is being looked after.

The Wellington policing district has been trying to clear a backlog of 108 cases, mainly in Wairarapa, since December last year. Thirty arrests have been made to date.

The backlog was identified last year during an internal planning exercise for a new child protection team in the district.

Children's Commissioner John Angus says when police become aware of the possibility of abuse in a household they inform Child, Youth and Family, who get involved to make sure children are safe, while police deal with the prosecution.

He says Child Youth and Family have powers to act even if no charges are brought or no investigation is carried out.

Reports of backlog of 600 cases rejected

Police are rejecting reports there may be a backlog of up to 600 child abuse cases in the Wellington district alone, but had yet to provide the actual figures on Friday.

The police say they deal with more than 1700 cases of child abuse annually, and at any time there is likely to be up to 100 under investigation in provincial centres with that number trebling in metropolitan areas.

They say they've done some preliminary work in assessing case loads and management and will pass that information to the Independent Police Conduct Authority, which is investigating the delays.

Neither the authority nor the police have been able to confirm whether the backlog extends to regions other than Wellington.