- There has been significant criticism of the offence of ‘concealing a serious indictable offence’ for almost 20 years, although the issue isn’t all one way.
- Amendments which commenced late last year create graded levels of maximum penalties – up to five years, from a previous two – depending on the maximum penalty for the offence which was concealed.
- The amendments also changed the drafting of the offence itself, potentially meaning that the prosecution no longer needs to prove that an indictable offence has been committed.
- Following a Royal Commission recommendation, an additional offence has been added of ‘failing to report’ child abuse offences, and applies to anyone who needs a Working With Children Check, or owners and managers within those organisations.
The offence of concealing a serious indictable offence has been significantly amended recently, with changes to maximum penalties, possibly unintended changes to the elements of the offence, and the addition of a new offence of failing to report sexual abuse of a child in an institutional setting. Between those amendments and some high-profile cases in the media, it’s a good time to talk about this particularly thorny issue. On the face of it, the idea of criminalising the concealment of a serious indictable offence in the name of public betterment is pretty straightforward; either you’re for it, or against. By the end of this article, no matter what your view, you might be questioning your position.