Shock stat in Higgins case

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The ACT is the least likely jurisdiction in Australia to lay charges over an alleged sexual assault, an inquiry has heard.

The statistics were laid bare in a report tendered to an inquiry on Wednesday examining how criminal justice agencies handled Brittany Higgins’ rape allegation.

When Ms Higgins made her complaint in 2021, just 7 per cent of reports of alleged offences had led to a charge, down from 22 per cent in 2011 and 44 per cent in 2015.

“Sexual violence offences remain under-reported, undercharged and under-prosecuted in the ACT,” the report said.

Statistics from the report were tendered to the inquiry.Statistics from the report were tendered to the inquiry.

The report also showed the ACT laid charges over alleged sexual assaults at a rate six times lower than the rest of the country.

Detective Superintendent Scott Moller, the senior investigator in the Higgins case, was questioned about the report’s findings on his third day in the witness box.

Mark Tedeschi KC, counsel representing the Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC, suggested the statistics reflected the fact police were “undercharging” in the ACT.

Superintendent Moller said he “absolutely” rejected the assertion and the findings of the report.

“The team that work (sic) on sex assault cases are a dedicated, professional group of investigators,” he said.

“From my perspective, the data is not accurate.”

He also told the inquiry the sexual assault and child abuse team (SACAT) was full of “very young, inexperienced officers”.

The senior police officer was grilled over three days. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin OllmanThe senior police officer was grilled over three days. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

The senior police officer said SACAT was the “training ground … for budding detectives” where young officers had “minimal” or “less than ideal direction” from senior officers.

On Thursday, the inquiry will hear from senior constable Emma Frizzell, who reported to Superintendent Moller during the investigation.

Mr Drumgold has accused police of having a “passion” for the case to fail and officers involved having a “skills deficit”.

He gave evidence that police had lost objectivity during the investigation.

Superintendent Moller rebuked that earlier this week, suggesting that if it was anyone who lost their objectivity, it was the DPP.

Mr Lehrmann pleaded not guilty to one charge of sexually assaulting his former colleague at Parliament House in 2019, before the trial was aborted due to jury misconduct.

Mr Lehrmann has continually denied the allegation and the Director of Public Prosecutions declined to pursue a second trial due to concerns over Ms Higgins’ mental health and dropped the charge.

The inquiry continues.

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