Bill to establish child sex offender register

The Social Services Committee has presented its report to the House on the Child Protection (Child Sex Offender Register) Bill.

The Bill proposes the establishment of a register to help the Police and the Department of Corrections monitor child sex offenders. Those on the register would have to give certain information to the Police, and would have to keep it up to date.

In the interests of public safety, relevant information from the register could be shared between the Police, the Department of Corrections, the Ministry of Social Development, and Housing New Zealand. Where there is a threat to child safety or welfare, the Police could tell affected people, such as parents, guardians, or teachers of certain children, that a person is a registered offender.

The register would include those convicted of child sex offences overseas. It would also (retrospectively) include those who have already committed child sex offences in New Zealand.

Offenders would be on the register for either 8 years, 15 years, or life, depending on their offence. The Social Services Committee has recommended that after 15 years, those on the register for life should be allowed to apply to have their reporting requirements suspended.

The committee has also recommended inserting new provisions about offenders changing their names. Offenders on the register would have to ask for the Police Commissioner’s approval before applying for a name change. It would be an offence to not seek approval, punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 or imprisonment for up to 2 years. The Police Commissioner would have to consider certain things in deciding whether to approve a name change application.

For more information a copy of the committees report can be viewed here, and the Bill can be viewed here.