Law Society critical of child sex offender register

  • 02/12/2015
Law Society critical of child sex offender register

The Government's proposed new child sex offender register is unlikely to keep the people it's meant to protect safe, the Law Society says.

And it wants the Government to start again and design the register so it targets child sex offenders who are likely to reoffend.

Law Society law reform committee member Tim Stephens says as it stands, the proposed register takes a blanket approach by classifying sex offenders as a homogenous group, when the risk of individuals reoffending can vary greatly.

Registers also perpetuate the view that strangers commit sexual offending, whereas sexual offending most often occurs by people who are known to victims, Mr Stephens said.

The Law Society is also worried because advice from officials indicates there is limited overseas evidence that child sex offender registers actually work, and there are concerns the register would infringe the Bill of Rights Act.

"Given the lack of evidence about the effectiveness of sex offender registers, and the Bill of Rights problems with the approach taken, the Law Society recommends that the bill should not proceed," Mr Stephens said.

"It recommends an alternative, more targeted approach directed at the identification of individual offenders with a high potential to reoffend."

A select committee is continuing to hear submissions on the proposed register.

The register won't be open to the public, but where there's a "significant threat" to a child information may be released to a parent, guardian, teacher or caregiver.

All child sex offenders will have to register if they were aged 18 or over when they were convicted and sentenced.

They will have to provide a range of information including any aliases, home and work addresses, email addresses, car registration and passport details.

They must report any change in that information within 72 hours.