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Ex-police boss takes NZ abuse investigation job

The Catholic Churchin New Zealand has announced that former police commissioner John Jamieson will head the Church's new new National Office for Professional Standards.

The Press newspaper reports that the job will see 66-year-old Jamieson overseeing complaints against the church.

The appointment was announced by the Catholic Bishops and the leaders of religious orders, the bodies which have recently established the Professional Standards Office.

Catholic Communications director Lyndsay Freer says that in recent years, the Church has sought to respond positively and compassionately when complaints have been received about abuse of professional standards within the Church community.

Mr Jamieson said the interviewing and investigative skills he had gained during his 37 years in the force, would serve him well.

"Each case will be different. I will look for a fair conclusion and see the other side as well. If I find some failure with the process, I will suggest appropriate action," Jamieson said.

Jamieson is not a Catholic. He was brought up in the Baptist Church but describes himself as an "ecumenical Christian".

His police service included two stints in Christchurch, the second ending in two years as district commander. He moved to Wellington and served four years as police commissioner until his retirement in 1993.

Following a strategic review the decision was made to establish a National Office for Professional Standards charged with assisting dioceses, religious orders and complainants, by offering an independent review of process for abuse complaints that have not had a satisfactory outcome.

The office is currently being established and located in Wellington. The objective is to ensure consistency throughout New Zealand in the application of policies and best practice and if appropriate, to arrange further action for dealing with a complaint.

"The National Director's role is challenging and demanding," Mrs Freer said. "We are delighted that a person of Mr Jamieson's expertise and experience was available to take up that position."

Meanwhile in the United States, Archbishop Harry Flynn of the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse has expressed confidence in prevention policies adopted by the country's bishops two years ago, suggesting that public confidence in the Catholic Church "will be built up again, but it will be a gradual thing."

The Committee is supervising a two-year review of the sex abuse prevention policies contained in the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," adopted in 2002.

The review is called for in the charter and the bishops are expected to begin the review at their general meeting next month and conclude it at their June 2005 meeting.

"A great deal has been done to protect our children and young people," the archbishop told Catholic News Service. "My hope is that any modifications (of the charter) will be simply fine-tuning," he said.

"It would be good for other organizations to look at what we have done and the recommendations we have made and to try to do likewise so that more children will be protected," he added.

Ex-police boss takes church job (The Press, Christchurch, 15/10/04)
National Director appointed for Catholic Church's new National Office for Professional Standards (Catholic Communications, New Zealand 14/10/04)
'Great deal' done to protect children from abuse, says archbishop (Catholic News Service 15/10/04)

National Review Board gets new chair, five new members (Catholic News Service 15/10/04)
New members appointed to bishops' review board (Catholic World News 15/10/04)
Catholic Church in New Zealand | Confronting Abuse: a path towards healing
Restoring Trust: Response to Clergy Sexual Abuse (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

18 Oct 2004