Bill introduced to establish sex offender register

Image: Orange Sparrow

A Bill to enable the establishment of a child sex offender register was introduced to Parliament by Social Development Minister Anne Tolley on 13 August 2015.

The Child Protection (Child Sex Offender Register) Bill "aims to reduce sexual reoffending against child victims, and the risk posed by serious child sex offenders by providing government agencies with the information needed to monitor child sex offenders in the community and providing up-to-date information that assists the Police to more rapidly resolve cases of child sex offending."

The Bill allows Police and Corrections to establish a register for convicted child sex offenders aged 18 or over at the time of the offence and who have been:

  • Convicted of a qualifying offence and has been sentenced to prison, or
  • Sentenced to a non-custodial sentence and directed to be registered by the sentencing judge, or
  • Convicted of an equivalent offence and sentenced overseas, or have been on an overseas register with the intention of residing in New Zealand.

The Bill will require registered offenders to:

  • Report to the Police within 72 hours of prison release or after receiving a non-custodial sentence and being directed to register by a Judge
  • Provide a range of information such as fingerprints, photographs, aliases, address, workplace and employer, car registration, computer IP address and passport details
  • Notify Police within 72 hours of changes to any information
  • Report annually to Police to confirm information is correct, be fingerprinted and photographed.

Offenders would stay on the register for a life term, 15 years or eight years, dependent on the scale of the offending. 

A dedicated Police and Corrections unit will manage the register information and identify and manage the risk posed by offenders who have come to the end of their sentence, or are serving non-custodial sentences. Relevant information will be able to be shared with authorised staff from agencies such as the Ministry of Social Development or Housing New Zealand. The register will not be open to the public, but in cases of significant threat to the safety of children, information may be released to a third party such as a parent or teacher responsible for a child.

The Regulatory Impact Statement prepared by New Zealand Police and the Department of Corrections states that the 10 year cost of the register is $146 million. This includes the capital and operating costs of setting up and running the Register and the operating costs associated with managing the people on the Register. $85 million will come out of existing baselines. $61 million of new funding will be required.

The Statement says "Over ten years, it is estimated that 4 to 34 child sex offence convictions may be prevented, as well as the prevention of many undisclosed, or unreported child sex offences."

Kim Workman from Rethinking Crime and Punishment said "If I was going to spend a million bucks, I wouldn't be spending it on a register but sex offender treatment and rehabilitation."

Otago University Dean of Law Mark Henaghan said a register doesn't actually help discourage repeat offending. "$35 million is a major spend on putting something on a registrar ... all it really tells you is where people live and that and it does infringe their rights, we'd be better invested putting that money into treatment programmes."

Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar wants a register to be open to the public.

Minister Tolley said "By gathering information authorities will be able to keep track of these offenders, while also being alert to any changes in their circumstances. Agencies will gather continually updated personal information, which can then be assessed and analysed to determine if reoffending is more likely to take place, so that necessary action can be taken."

The register is scheduled to be in place by July 2016. The first hearing of the Bill is yet to be held.

Background information is available in these previous Clearinghouse news stories:

Child sex offender register to be established (August 2014)

Register for sex offenders awaiting decision from Cabinet (April 2014)

Research on the effectiveness of sex offender registers is below.

Update: The Child Protection (Child Sex Offender Register) Bill passed the first reading in Parliament on 15 September 2015.

Further resources:

The United States Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) has published a series of Research Briefs which aim to provide policymakers and practitioners with trustworthy, up-to-date information to identify what works to combat sexual offending and prevent sexual victimisation.

Assessing the Risk: Protecting the Child: Impact and Evidence briefing (Belton, 2015)

Assessing the Risk and Needs of Supervised Sexual Offenders:A Prospective Study Using STABLE-2007, Static-99R, and Static-2002R (Hanson, Helmus & Harris, 2015)

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration and Notification Policies for Reducing Sexual Violence against Women (Letoumeau, Levenson, Bandyopadhyay, Sinha & Armstrong, 2010).

Does a watched pot boil? A Time-Series Analysis of New York State's Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law (Sandler, Freeman & Socia, 2008).

Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released From Prison in 1994 (Durose, Langan, Schmitt, 2003).

Media

New Zealand

Child sex offender register created under Bill, 3 News, 16.09.2015

Sex offender register will enhance child safety - Tolley, Radio NZ, 16.09.2015

Child sex offender register passes first step, Stuff, 16.09.2015

Sex Offender Register Bill Progresses, Parliament Today, Scoop, 15.09.2015

Bill to establish child sex offender register passes first reading, Beehive, 15.09.2015

Name child sex offenders - agencies, Northern Advocate, 31.08.2015

Risks in setting up child-sex register, Wairarapa Times-Age, 28.08.2015

Editorial: Sex-offender plan cries out for refinement, NZ Herald, 27.08.2015

Keith Locke: The downside to a child sex offender register, NZ Herald, 26.08.2015

Editorial: A sex offenders' register is an idea worth considering, Dominion Post, 25.08.2015

Toni Street calls for child sex offender register to 'go further', TVNZ, 25.08.2015

Wider cover for sex register, NZ Herald, 24.08.2015

Sex offender register delivers police $20m bill, Radio NZ, 20.08.2015

Police face $20m bill for child sex offenders register, Stuff, 20.08.2015

Child sex offender register costs revealed, NZ City, 15.08.2015

Child sex offender register to cost taxpayers $146 million, TVNZ, 15.08.2015

'Scary seeing our school on the news and not knowing' about sex offender moving in - parents talk to ONE News, TVNZ, 14.08.2015

‘Everyone needs to know when there is a sex offender in their community’, TVNZ, 14.08.2015

Father of murder victim wants child sex offenders register, The Timaru Herald, 14.08.2015

Corrections defend placement of sex offender in Green Bay, TVNZ, 14.08.2015

Warning over child sex offender register, 3 News, 14.08.2015

Pedophiles' register 'will protect them from themselves', Press Release: Family First NZ, Voxy, 14.08.2015

A sex offender register is a child’s right, Press Release: Sensible Sentencing Trust, Scoop, 14.08.2015

Questions asked over child sex offender's register, NewsTalk ZB, 14.08.2015

Sex offender register's net may widen, Radio NZ, 14.08.2015

Govt wants to start child sex offender register, 3 News, 13.08.2015

Government plans child sex offender register, NZ Herald, 13.08.2015

Child sex offenders' register on the cards, Radio NZ, 13.08.2015

Govt plans sex offender register, Otago Daily Times, 13.08.2015

Bill creates child sex offender register, NZ City, 13.08.2015

Child sex offender register to be created despite it 'breaching rights', TVNZ, 13.08.2015

Child sex offenders register breaches human rights laws - lawyer, Stuff, 13.08.2015

Government plans child sex offender register, Rotorua Daily Post, 13.08.2015

Parliament to consider sex offender register, NewsTalk ZB, 13.08.2015

International

Myths and research on sex offender registries, Detroit Free Press, 16.05.2015

Image: 'A little justice' by Orange Sparrow. Licence Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)