There are many contenders for the title of most damning and depressing finding in the report published yesterday by the Independent Police Conduct Authority into the Roast Busters investigations.

A pattern of error and deficiency, a failure to join basic dots, a failure to understand issues around consent, a failure to consider implications for women other than the victims, a failure to secure all available evidence, a mismanagement of victims and witnesses. On it goes.

But perhaps the most alarming is the message that the police are failing to learn, serially, from their very serious errors. The IPCA refers to the finding in a report five years ago that several police districts were failing to properly apply child abuse policy. "In May 2010, at the conclusion of the inquiry, the authority made 34 recommendations to police to rectify the shortcomings identified.

"It is disturbing that several themes identified as a result of the authority's child abuse inquiry (such as deficiencies in investigative practices, file recording, collaboration with CYF, and case supervision) have again been highlighted in the authority's current investigation. This is notwithstanding the fact that the related recommendations made in 2010 to address the deficiencies were accepted and embedded by police."


"Disturbing" is an almighty understatement. It is horrifying. As long as there is no confidence in the police to honour their pledges to reform, whether in process or culture, all the apologies and demotions and heartfelt promises are made of air.