The Child Abuse Squad (CAS) coordinates the NSW Police Force response to child sexual abuse, serious physical abuse or extreme neglect.

The aim of the Squad

To prevent, disrupt and respond to offences of child sexual assault and abuse that are protracted, complex and require a high-level specialist response by assisting /supporting victims, securing evidence, and arresting/ charging for the prosecution of offenders.

The Squad includes

Child Abuse Squad Teams

The CAS is comprised of Metropolitan and Regional teams that investigate sexual abuse, serious physical abuse or extreme neglect of children aged under 16 years in accordance with set criteria of the Joint Child Protection Response Program (JCPRP). They also investigate sexual assault, serious physical assault or neglect of young person’s 16 to 18 years where the young person has a cognitive impairment, sensory impairment or other communication needs; the young person is a close family member of, or is currently under the ‘special care’ or authority of the offender; the young person is in statutory care placed in a residential care facility and does not have an existing relationship with an allocated DCJ case worker; and the young person is in statutory care with a recent history of placement instability and does not have an existing relationship with an allocated DCJ case worker.

In addition to providing a 24/7 State-wide response the above matters, the teams also provide advice and/or assistance to Police Commands/Districts and specialist sections.

There are currently 19 separate Child Abuse teams located across the State.

Joint Referral Unit (JRU)

The JRU operates in a tri-agency response with staff from the NSW Police Force, Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) and NSW Health. The JRU assesses risk of serious harm referrals received from the DCJ Child Protection Helpline to determine whether they meet the JCPRP criteria for Entry into the Program for a CAS investigative response for a CAS response, or alternatively, should be referred to a Policing Command / District for further investigation.

The Joint Child Protection Response Program (JCPRP)

The JCPRP is a tri-agency program delivered by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) and NSW Health. The program operates state-wide and provides a comprehensive and coordinated safety, criminal justice and health response to children and young people alleged to have experienced sexual abuse, serious physical abuse and serious neglect.

In September 2018, The Secretary of DCJ (then Family and Community Services), the Secretary of NSW Health and the Commissioner of NSWPF negotiated a Statement of Intent (SoI) to guide the future of the partnership. The SoI reflects an agreement between the agencies to foster cooperation and provide the best outcomes for children, young people, their families, carers and the community in response to serious cases of child abuse. The SoI outlines the Principles, Objectives and Governance of the Program.

The underlying principle of the joint partnership is recognition that the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people is paramount. By working collaboratively, JCPRP staff from DCJ, NSWPF and NSW Health are able to coordinate agency specific expertise around the child or young person's needs.

Principles of the JCPRP

  • the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people is paramount
  • staff and agencies are responsible for ensuring children and young people remain the central focus of procedures and decisions
  • children and young people receive protective, therapeutic and other support services when they need them
  • children and young people are protected from further trauma, including repeat interviews
  • children and young people in out of home care are entitled to and provided with special assistance and protection from the State
  • intervention is sensitive to issues of age, gender, culture, language, religion, disability, sexuality, socio-economic status and location
  • significant policy changes involve full consultation and joint communication prior to implementation
  • mutual respect for the statutory and other responsibilities of DCJ, NSWPF and NSW Health is essential to the effective functioning of the Program.

Objectives of the JCPRP

Children, young people and the community are protected from further harm and achieve safety, justice and recovery by:

  • entry to the Program occurring via tri-agency assessment of Risk of Significant Harm (ROSH) reports containing allegations that may constitute a criminal offence, consideration of information held by each agency and agreement the threshold has been met
  • agencies exchanging information relevant to the safety, welfare and wellbeing of a child or young person in a timely and effective manner throughout the Local Planning and Response (LPR) process including real time access to victim interviews to inform safety and risk assessments
  • the NSWPF taking the lead on and coordinating the response to allegations of child abuse where it determines that there are sufficient grounds for the likely commencement of criminal proceedings
  • staff ensuring that the processes surrounding care and protection, health and wellbeing, and criminal investigation assessments and responses are as seamless as possible
  • staff and wherever possible children, young people and families, being clear on what action, further to the interview and/or initial field response, each agency intends to take
  • staff being responsible for ensuring that children and young people in out of home care, whether victims and/or persons of interest are provided with emotional and/or legal support throughout the process
  • agencies which provide an immediate or after hours response to a report outside of tri-agency assessment and decision making at the JRU, notifying the other agencies and initiating the LPR process at the earliest possible opportunity
  • agency leaders collectively modelling a culture of continuous practice improvement and jointly undertaking systemic case reviews
  • agencies implementing policies and practices which ensure staff are appropriately screened, qualified, trained and supervised to support best practice.

How to report Child Abuse matters

The Child Abuse Squad do not take calls directly from members of the public. Matters in the first instance should be directed through your local police station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

If you think a child or young person is at risk of significant harm, contact the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (open 24 hours/7 days). Where appropriate the Child Protection Helpline will refer reports to the Joint Child Protection Response Program (JCPRP) via the Joint Referral Unit (JRU).

The JRU is the single-entry point into the JCPRP in NSW. Tri agency staff at the JRU share known interagency information and where necessary gather additional information to inform decisions about whether referrals require a specialist tri-agency response delivered via the JCPRP.

Reports which are not accepted by the JRU for a JCPRP response may still require a safety and risk assessment and/or criminal investigation and/or health service. Therefore, reports that do not meet the JCPRP criteria are referred for a local response to the relevant Community Service Centre (CSC) and where required to the NSWPF and/or NSW Health.