Police records, accessed under freedom of information laws by Greens MP David Shoebridge, show two attempts were made to finalise memorandums of understanding (MOUs) between police and the church over how to deal with complaints of sexual and physical abuse by Catholic Church personnel.

The first agreement, which was unsigned, includes a clause that reads: "Church authorities shall make available the report of an assessment and any other matter relevant to the accused's account of events only if required to do so by court order."

Barrister Geoffrey Watson SC says the agreement would have placed police in breach of the Crimes Act.

"If you become aware of a serious criminal offence, you've got to tell the police," he told the ABC's Lateline program.

"When I looked at the MOUs they were really in effect trying to get the police to condone the failure to comply with that law, or even perhaps worse, get the police to participate in that."