Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw has sent a sternly-worded letter to Scott Morrison, warning him that when politicians don’t immediately report allegations of crimes – such as when Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins was allegedly raped by another staffer inside then-Defense Industry Minister Linda Reynolds‘ office in 2019 – it not only impacts police investigations but it also increases the risk of the alleged perpetrator reoffending.

The letter, obtained by News.com.au, was requested by the PM’s office so that he could pass it along to MPs and Senators, the ABC reports.

“I cannot state strongly enough the importance of timely referrals of allegations of criminal conduct,” Kershaw wrote in the letter.

“Failure to report alleged criminal behaviour in this manner, or choosing to communicate or disseminate allegations via other means, such as through the media or third parties, risks prejudicing and subsequent police investigation.”

While both Higgins’ former boss, Linda Reynolds, as well as her current boss, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, both say they encouraged Higgins to go to the police, she ultimately only briefly met with the AFP in 2019 and decided not to go through with an investigation.

The controversy in recent weeks about who in the Liberal party knew about the allegations – which includes ministers and at least two staffers from the PM’s office – has raised questions as to whether there has been a coverup or whether the party’s internal reporting mechanisms are woefully inadequate.

“Any delay in reporting criminal conduct can result in the loss of key evidence, continuation of the offending and/or reoffending by the alleged perpetrator,” Kershaw wrote, which is now reflected in the allegations.

Since Higgins went public about her alleged rape, three other women in Canberra have made allegations that they were later sexually harassed by the same man.

In fact it was only this week that the alleged perpetrator was stood down from his job and checked into rehab.

Perhaps if the people working inside Parliament House had just acted with the same decency they’ve now been instructed to demonstrate in this new letter, then justice would’ve been achieved far more easily.

Image: Getty Images / Sam Mooy