Full interview: Anne Tolley talks sex offeners register

  • 16/03/2016
Anne Tolley (Paul Henry)
Anne Tolley (Paul Henry)

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley is adamant a sex offenders register, proposed by the social services select committee, is the best method available for monitoring criminals while they reintegrate into society.

The list would be available to police and other agencies involved with sex crimes -- but not to the public.

"The way that we have set this up, is that [sex offenders] have to go into the police and confirm all their details every year," says Ms Tolley.

"Remember that the register has different times -- eight years, 15 years or life, depending on the severity of your sentence. Those lifers would be able to apply at 15 years to a court to have those annual registrations suspended, and the New Zealand Police and Corrections would have the opportunity to make representations to the court and a judge would make a decision."

Ms Tolley says it is an unreasonable to make the register available to the public.

"We have two types of offenders: ones that have name suppression for the benefit of the victims, and we also have those whose names are known. So they will all be on the one list together. If you make it public then you can only have those without name suppressions."

Ms Tolley says she has always been a fan of having all sex offenders on the same list, and has been to see how countries with similar jurisdictions handle it.

She says this is what New Zealand would want to replicate.

According to Ms Tolley, the Bill which is now to appear before Parliament is picking up support amongst MPs.

The police-led initiative sits under the Vulnerable Children's Board, which is all the chief executives of the entire social sector.

Five million dollars have been spent over four years to set up the technology, but to set up the actual register over the next 10 years will cost about $140 million.

Ms Tolley says at the moment there is no way of knowing where a sex offender goes after they are released, and this list would solve that issue.

"This will give authorities information when a person maybe moves from a prison in Auckland, down to Bluff.

"At the moment they would disappear into that Bluff community and nobody would know; now police will have that information and they will know who those people are and where they are living."

She says the list will also mean if the released offenders feel as though they are beginning to "go off the rails", they will have access to the support they need.

"What I do know is that knowing where these people are makes it a lot easier to keep an eye on them."