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NZ joins a number of jurisdictions with sex offender registry

22 September 2016 - By Angharad O'Flynn

The Child Protection (Child Sex Offender Government Agency Registration) Act 2016 received the Royal assent on 14 September 2016 and will come into force on 14 October 2016.

The Act establishes a child sex offender register providing Department of Corrections staff and the New Zealand Police access to information needed to monitor child sex offenders in communities upon prison release.

The Register will not be accessible to the public. New Zealand has now joined a number of other jurisdictions in providing for a register of child sex offenders.

Australia

The New Zealand register is similar to the Australian state models. These were first initiated in 2000 when New South Wales introduced the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000. Other Australian states and territories began drafting and establishing their registers soon after, with most coming into effect a few years after: Victoria's Sex Offender's Registration Act 2004, Northern Territory's Child Protection (Offender Reporting and Registration) Act 2004, Queensland's Child Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2004, Western Australia's Community Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2004, Australian Capital Territory's  Crimes (Child Sex Offenders) Act 2005, Tasmania's Community Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2005, and South Australia's Child Sex Offenders Registration Act 2006.

The Australian registers make almost identical provision for the time an offender will be on the register, ranging from eight years through fifteen and then life for multiple offences.

England and Wales

England and Wales have a Child Offender Disclosure Scheme which was implemented in 2012 and is also known as "Sarah's Law". Under the scheme, a parent, guardian or third party can make an application to find out if there is information which they need to know about in order to protect a child(ren) in their care. If there is a need to pass information to someone in order to allow them to better protect a child, then the police will disclose to whoever is in a position to use, or need, that information.

Although each case will be considered separately, in consultation with partner agencies, disclosure will only be made to those people who are in a position to best protect or safeguard a child.

Scotland

Anyone convicted of a sexual offence which is listed within Scotland's Sexual Offences Act 2003 is automatically placed on Scotland's Sex Offender Register. The length of time a person is placed on the Sex Offenders Register is dictated by the sentence they receive for the crime which placed them on the register.

Community disclosure is now in place throughout Scotland. The scheme allows parents, carers or guardians with concerns about a child under the age of 18 years to make a formal request for the disclosure of information about a named person who may have contact with their child if they are concerned that that person may be a Registered Sex Offender.

United States

Sarah's Law shares similarities' with the United States' Federal Sex Offender Legislation, which includes "Megan's Law". This required all states to establish some form of community notification system for local offenders.

The United States implemented its first registration programme in 1994, with the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act. This established guidelines for states to track sex offenders by confirming their place of residence annually for ten years after their release into the community, or quarterly for the rest of their lives if the sex offender was convicted of a violent sex crime.

During the mid-1990s every US state passed a "Megan's Law". Congress enacted the federal Megan's Law that provided for public dissemination of information from states' sex offender registries, provided that information collected through the state programmes could be disclosed for any purpose permitted under a state law, and required state and local law enforcement agencies to release relevant information necessary to protect the public about persons registered under a State registration programme.

Canada

Canada has a National Sex Offender Registry, which is maintained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The National Sex Offender Registry is a national registration system for sex offenders who have been convicted of designated sex offences and ordered by the courts to report annually to police.

During the registration process, information on these individuals is added into the Sex Offender Registry database. This database is accessible to all accredited Canadian police agencies through a provincial/territorial registration centre.

The public does not have access to the National Sex Offender Registry. It is a database maintained by the RCMP that provides Canadian police services with important information that will improve their ability to investigate and prevent crimes of a sexual nature.

 Ireland

Ireland does not have a national register as such, but the Sex Offenders Act 2001 requires convicted sex offenders as outlined in the Act to nofify their name, date of birth and home address to An Garda Síochána.within seven days of their release from prison. They must notify An Garda Síochána of any change to their name or address within seven days of that change.

If an offender wishes to leave Ireland for an intended period of seven days or more at a time or two or more periods in any twelve month period which taken together amount to seven days, they must notify An Garda Síochána of that intention in advance of leaving and state the address at which they are staying outside Ireland.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019