Member log in

Sex Offender Register will target child abusers – Police Minister Anne Tolley

The Government’s Sex Offender Register will target child sex offenders, Police and Corrections Minister Anne Tolley told TVNZ’s Q+A programme this morning.

"We are looking at anyone who has been sent to prison for an offence against children.  So it's quite a small number of people, probably about 300 to 350 of those either come out of prison or come off a community sentence each year''

The Government may look at expanding the register to include other sex offenders at a later date.

It will be managed by the Police and open to agencies like Corrections, Housing and the Ministry of Social Development.  It will not be open to the public.

“If I was a parent I would want to know so I understand the community concern but there’s two reasons. First of all to have that one register where everyone is on it. We want all the people who have name suppression and many of them do have name suppression to protect their victims.  So we want that list to have everyone so the police in particular but all those other agencies know exactly who is on the register, who has been convicted.  And remember people will be on the register for different periods of time depending on their offence.  Secondly, there is very good evidence that particularly those high risk offenders will be driven underground. “

Mrs Tolley hopes the register will be introduced by the end of the year.

Comments and questions

This raises a few concerns:

1. While at first glance a potentially good idea, the USA's use of the same has become an abhorrent method by which people's lives are effectively and practically ruined. People have no chance of rehabilitation because being on the register for any reason - even something minor like drunken indecent exposure can get one on the list - means zero chance of getting a job, renting a place to live and various other things.

2. Will access to the register be audited? Such a register, accessible by people in all these various agencies, effectively circumvents name suppression and privacy rulings. It creates a double standard of name suppression, where an individual who has name suppression for the general public has none for government agencies. How sustainable is name suppression in this model? (Especially when anyone can go to an internet cafe somewhere and publish a name using an anonymous account, or even spread details via word of mouth.)

I doubt our ministers or agencies have reviewed the down sides or thought through this properly, if it's like any other area of law making.