Timaru offenders likely to be on register

Some Timaru people are likely to feature on the child-sex offender register the Government is pushing ahead with.

Police and Corrections Minister Anne Tolley has confirmed ministers have signed off on plans to establish the database.

The database will not be open to the public.

It will be managed by the police, and only available to officials with security clearance from agencies such as the Department of Corrections and the Ministry of Social Development.

Police would also be able to inform people with children who become involved with a convicted child sex offender.

Timaru Detective Greg Harrison said he believed some names from Timaru would be on it but he had not seen any official announcement of the database.

However, he said the reality was it was now common for sex offenders to be known to the victims so he was not sure how much it would reduce harm in the community.

"It is no longer about stranger danger. It is Uncle Bill or Uncle Fred that is more likely to be committing the offence," Harrison said.

If National wins the election, Tolley hopes to introduce the register by the end of the year.

Initially, the list will run to 472 names and include those who have been released from prison or are serving a community sentence.

Offenders with name suppression would not be excluded. It is expected the index will eventually be expanded to target other sex offenders.

Tolley said research on the idea was "extensive".

"We want to stop these people falling through the cracks and disappearing into our communities at the end of their sentences," she said.

"We want to know where they are and have more information about their circumstances, so they can be managed, and increased risks of reoffending can be detected before they take place so that we have the chance to take action."

Failure to register is an offence punishable by imprisonment.

The length of time a person remains on the index depends on the offence. Under that system, offenders must register with police within three days of conviction or release from jail.

They are required to register every year, notify a change of address or whether they will be away for seven days or more.

The Timaru Herald