Wednesday, July 3, 2013

AUSTRALIA - News laws would allow South Australian police to track child-sex offenders with GPS

Attorney-General John Rau speaking in Parliament.
Original Article



Police will have more powers to track high-risk child-sex offenders with GPS devices if new laws are approved by Parliament.

The legislation would enable police to require a registered child-sex offender to wear a personal tracking device that police could monitor at all times.

Offenders can be placed on the Australian National Child Offender Register for a minimum of eight years or in some cases for life and would have to wear a tracking device for that period of time.

Currently corrections officers can only monitor offenders for home detention or if they go within a certain distance of a specified place, such as schools.

Attorney-General John Rau will introduce changes to the state Child Sex Offenders Registration Act to Parliament tomorrow.

Elements of the legislation will:
  • REQUIRE registered child-sex offenders to report more frequently about changes such as a new job or address;
  • IMPOSE a mandatory bail condition on anyone charged with a child-sex offence preventing them from working in a list of child-related roles, including in the taxi or hire care industries;
  • MAKE it an offence to give police false information, carrying a five-year jail penalty; and
  • ALLOW police to obtain DNA samples from child-sex offenders registered before the state introduced forensic profiling and to add that data to the current database.

It is expected about 150 people would be captured by that change.

The amendments follow recommendations in the Debelle inquiry into sexual abuse cases in state schools , including proposed changes to the Act.

Mr Debelle recommended accused child-sex offenders who work with children in any capacity, even as a volunteer, be compelled to tell police the name and address of their employer.

Independent MP Ann Bressington has a similar bill before Parliament's Upper House, the Correctional Services (GPS Trcking for Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill.

In early March, Labor MLC Kyam Maher told the Upper House that while Ms Bressington's bill was a "good starting point" the Government intended to "go further" and draft legislation featuring "stronger provisions".

Mr Rau said the Government had been working on its legislation for some time before Mr Debelle's report was released.

Under Mr Debelle's proposals, police would have the power to tell an employer an accused child-sex offender has been charged.

In many of the sexual abuse cases canvassed in Mr Debelle's report, which involved school teachers, counsellors or other staff and volunteers, the accused did not notify the school that they had been arrested or charged.

As part of his inquiry, Mr Debelle commissioned a survey of all allegations of sexual offending in public schools from 2009 to 2012.

It uncovered 75 matters in schools run by the Education Department plus another 20 related to non-government schools.

Of the 75 public school incidents, 11 were not investigated by police.

Of the remaining 64 which were investigated, 30 resulted in charges being laid, in 28 there was not enough evidence to charge the offender and investigations are ongoing in six.

Of the 30 cases where charges were laid, 11 resulted in convictions.

These included three offences against a family member of the perpetrator, including unlawful sex with a foster child and covert filming of a stepdaughter.

Another case involved a volunteer tutor who persistently sexually exploited five boys aged about 10.

"In those matters where convictions were recorded, the offending occurred at a school on two occasions only," Mr Debelle writes in his report.

In light of this, he warns that in future schools must be "prepared to manage allegations of sexual misconduct concerning teachers and students at a school wherever the alleged offending might be said to have occurred".

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