Online sex offences law beefed up

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 08:53 28/05/2013

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The low number of people jailed for online sexual offences is ''totally unacceptable'', Justice Minister Judith Collins says, prompting the need for legislation to beef up possible sentences.

Collins will this week introduce the Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill into Parliament.

While the legislation would create new offences of grooming children where offenders contact minors inappropriately, it was focused on increasing the punishment for those who were caught out doing what was already illegal.

Agencies such as police, the Department of Internal Affairs and Customs already put ''tremendous'' resources into detecting crimes involving child pornography and would likely increase resources if it was needed, Collins said.

''These actions, apart from grooming of children online, these actions are already contrary to the law, most of this bill is actually about increasing the penalties,'' Collins told Radio New Zealand this morning.

Most than 400 people had been convicted of the offence of having objectionable material between 2004 and 2011, most of which where sexual images of children.

Of these, only 33 per cent were jailed. ''That is totally unacceptable and I think we need to deal with it and this is what this bill is all about,'' Ms Collins said.

''I'm telling the judges that we're changing the law so that they can get tougher and of course they are bound by sentencing guidelines.''

There will be some new offences created in the legislation, including clarification around viewing illegal sexual content without necessarily downloading or saving it.

Collins said this was not aimed at catching people who accidentally accessed illegal images, but ''if you consistently go into that same sort of image, well actually, that's intentional''.

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