NEWPORT, Queensland – A University of Queensland law professor has called for a new law that would give more power to police in the quest for convictions for sexual offences involving underage girls.
Professor Neil McGrath said a lack of effective prosecutions for such offences meant many women did not report assaults and that there were too few prosecutions for rape or sexual assault against children.
He said the current legislation was flawed and the problem was that police had to rely on the advice of experts to investigate sexual offences against children, and not the evidence in court.
The current law was flawed, Professor McGrath told the ABC.
“The evidence that police have is not always the evidence that they need to bring a charge, so it’s an incredibly difficult and costly system,” he said.
Lawyer James Rafferty said many victims did not seek justice, and police were often not adequately trained in how to investigate, and that many women had been intimidated into not reporting sexual assaults.
Mr Raffert said a new rape law should apply to all sexual assaults, not just rape.
If a rape victim is reluctant to report the assault to police, she should be referred to a victim advocate, he said, and a case should be taken forward without delay if there was evidence to support the allegation.
There should also be a presumption of innocence, which means police are not required to prove the allegation to support a conviction, Professor Rafferts said.
Professor McGrath is a former police officer and was awarded the Gold Medal of the Queensland Police Association.
His research has also appeared in the Australian and Australian Law Journal.
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