Child safety officers link with police on family violence calls


CHILD safety officers will turn up with police to probe claims of child sexual abuse, physical abuse and family violence under a new model to hasten protection investigations.

The new strike teams, formed from lessons learned from the tragic child death cases that have rocked the state, will operate under a year-long trial before being rolled out across Queensland.

Ten officers will initially be given specialist training to work alongside police from the Gold Coast, Townsville and Toowoomba regions. It follows repeated findings that authorities must improve their information sharing to save lives.

They will be rostered night and day and be called in by police on cases in which an allegation has been made of harm against a child by an adult in the household.

Four additional child protection workers will be based at police’s Roma Street headquarters. They will be given access to databases so they can run police checks requested by case workers across the state and report back on potential risks.

Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said greater co-operation between authorities was also needed in light of the huge numbers of children coming into care from families plagued by domestic violence and ice use.

“We are seeing half of all of the families coming to the attention of child safety with a domestic violence incident being reported in the last 12 months,” she said.

“We’re seeing one of three children coming to the attention of child safety with a parent or both parents using ice.

“So the more that we can work together, the more we can share that information, the safer our children will be.”

State Crime Command detective acting chief superintendent Cheryl Scanlon said the new teams would deal with “the worst of the worst” cases and begin “within weeks” after a planning meeting on September 12.

She said while it was the job of police to investigate whether a crime had taken place, it was best practice for child protection officers to be there to decide whether a child was safe in the household or needed to be taken into care.

Source >