A justice reform lobby group says civil servants caught leaking details from a new child sex offender register should be jailed.
Rethinking Crime and Punishment says the database should be evaluated over three years to ensure it is effective in protecting children from sex crimes. And if it doesn't work, then it should be abandoned.
Cabinet ministers have signed off plans to introduced the index, which will initially be limited to child sex abusers. Police and Corrections Minister Anne Tolley said it would not be open to the public.
Rethinking Crime and Punishment spokesman Kim Workman said new legislation could include a clause that public servants who deliberately leaked details from the register would be sacked and face a jail sentence.
Tolley was "wise to act with caution", he said. He pointed to a British database which "changed from being a public protection measure to becoming punishment in its own right". Its function effectively shifted from the protection of children to a means of further punishing offenders after their release from prison.
Workman also warned of a "false sense of public security".
"The harsh reality is that their child is at greater risk from people they or their family know, rather than some stranger who is on the register."