Watchdog warns on budget after cop's serial child abuse

Tasmania's corruption watchdog warns it doesn't have the money to investigate all misconduct claims, as the government beefs up its powers following a review into a serial pedophile police officer.

Senior Sergeant Paul Reynolds used his status as a trusted member of the community to groom and abuse up to 52 young boys as far back as 1988, an independent review by former war crimes prosecutor Regina Weiss found.

Ms Weiss described it was "the most prolific grooming" she had seen over 20 years.

Reynolds, who worked for a decade after accusations were first raised against him, took his own life in September 2018 while being investigated over the allegations.

A Tasmania Police vehicle in Hobart
Tasmania Police will have a team to support victims of sexual crimes by a former or serving officer.

The review's five recommendations have been accepted in full by Tasmania Police Commissioner Donna Adams, with two pending government approval.

Among them is a framework where police acknowledge and engage with people who were groomed or abused by the force's officers, and a team within Tasmania Police to support victims of sexual offending by a former or serving officer.

Ms Weiss also urged police to strengthen community engagement and build trust between the force, vulnerable groups and sport and recreation organisations to prevent, identify and report grooming and sexual abuse.

The recommendations under government consideration are a redress scheme for Reynolds' victims, and adding coercive examination to the Integrity Commission's powers so it can investigate all reports of grooming and sexual abuse by police officers.

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff on Wednesday committed to "appropriately deliver" the review's recommendations, which Police Minister Felix Ellis said would be implemented as a priority.

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff
Jeremy Rockliff has committed to deliver the review's recommendations.

Investigating the abuse of power in public office was important work that needed to be done but integrity chief commissioner Greg Melick said the organisation's budget could not sustain the level of investigation or oversight the report recommended.

"We barely have the resources to exercise our existing powers as envisaged and expected by the Tasmanian Parliament and the public," he said in a statement.

The commission had fewer than five full time workers in its complaints and oversight teams combined, Mr Melick said.

"It is not possible within our current resourcing to thoroughly (oversee) the some 40,000 or so public sector workers in Tasmania, including the over 1400 police officers."

Ms Weiss delivered her report last week after hearing from 87 people, among them 15 victim-survivors or their families.

She found Reynolds used the perception he had power as a police officer to groom and abuse his victims and their families.

Being heavily involved in community football and basketball coaching as well as administration, Ms Weiss said he used sport as his "hunting ground" where he targeted children often through the guise of massaging them or providing sports therapy.

The review identified deficiencies in the reporting of Reynolds' crimes, which played a role in his decades-long offending.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people aged 5 to 25)

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