Police forced to remove hundreds from child sex offender register

The Government has announced an urgent law change to protect children from predators after a Supreme Court decision forced police to remove hundreds of people from the Child Sex offender Register due to a technicality.

The changes clarify the intent of Parliament when it passed the Child Protection Act in 2016 for the register to apply to everyone who had committed a qualifying child sex offence, irrespective of when the offence occurred.

The law change followed a Supreme Court decision last month, which determined the Act lacked clarity.

The Court determined that the Act did not apply to a person who had committed a qualifying offence before the legislation came into force on October 14, 2016, but was convicted and sentenced after that date.

Poto Williams. Photo: NZH File
Poto Williams. Photo: NZH File
"As a consequence of this decision, police has had to remove hundreds of individuals from the Child Sex Offender Register," Police Minister Poto Williams said.

"The urgent amendment to the retrospective provisions of the Act is essential for the wellbeing and safety of children, and their whānau.

"The longer these offenders are off the register, the less ability police have to monitor them."

The amendment will also ensure that any individuals sentenced for a qualifying offence after the Supreme Court decision can be placed on the register, either by confirming their eligibility or enabling review of any decision not to register.

It will also ensure police can register individuals convicted of historical child sex abuse.

Save the Children, a charity that aims to create a better future for kids, welcomed the change.

"Our tamariki deserve the very best protection and for serious sex offenders to be excluded from the registry due to a loophole puts children at unacceptable risk," the charity's Child rights advocacy and research director Jacqui Southey said.

"Today's changes will ensure greater accuracy and transparency on the Register and enable more effective monitoring but we remain concerned that too many children in Aotearoa continue to be harmed by sexual violence.

"We support legislation, policies, and practices that will have greater effect in safeguarding our children."







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