The details of convicted paedophiles could soon be published in Australia.
After a shocking defeat for the Labor party at yesterday’s federal election, the Coalition’s controversial plans for a public sex offender register could soon come to fruition.
If the register goes ahead, the names, aliases and photographs of listed paedophiles over the age of 18 will be published for all Australians to see, along with their dates of birth, nature of their crimes, and maybe even their postcodes.
The idea was first proposed at the April budget announcement by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, in his latest bid to ‘make Australia safe again’. It will cost AUSD$7.8 million and will be publicly available and hosted by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).
The plans don’t specify what crimes would cause an offender to be listed on the register but are a giant leap away from current law. As it stands, for most Australian jurisdictions, the names and crimes of convicted sex offenders are highly restricted from public access and this controversial shake-up is claimed to the ‘toughest crackdown on paedophiles’ in Australian history.
There are more than 17,000 convicted paedophiles in Australia, with the largest numbers recorded in the states of New South Wales and Victoria, both at 4,000, and Western Australia with a register containing 3,500 people for a population of less than 2.7 million, per Daily Mail.
Dutton believes that this public register will act as a strong deterrent to offenders. Speaking in April, he said:
Protection of our most vulnerable – our children – remains one of the highest priorities … It [the register] will send a clear message that Australia will not tolerate individuals preying on the most vulnerable members of the community.
However, despite widespread enthusiasm from supporters, the plans have been met with some criticism. Many claim a public register will likely lead to vigilantism and will offer no real assistance or support to the victims of sex crimes in Australia.
In a published report last year, the Australian Institute of Criminology said:
While public offender registries may have a small general deterrent effect on first-time offenders, they do not reduce recidivism.
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