Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Sex Fiend Tag Plan

By Paula Doneman

Sex offenders may soon be tracked by electronic bracelets. The new tracking technology being considered by the State Government would enable authorities to know when offenders approach designated no-go areas involving children. Under the plan, electronic bracelets would be fitted to sex offenders who have been released from jail but are still considered a risk to children.

The bracelets, which cannot be removed, are linked to an interactive global positioning system which triggers alarms when offenders approach prohibited areas. Police Minister Judy Spence will travel to New Zealand on Wednesday for a "fact finding" mission to look at the tracking technology used by prison authorities there. She said the New Zealand system might record where and offender has been, but only if they had been at a prohibited place and those co-ordinates were programmed on the system.

Under new laws to be introduced later this year, police will be able to apply to the courts for child sex offender prohibition orders to restrict where a pedophile can live, and even who they can associate with. This could mean a pedophile is prevented from going within 200m of parks or movie theatres where children congregate, entering shopping centers when school children could be there, or even associating with anyone aged under 16.

Ms. Spence said the courts would decide how long offenders would be electronically monitored and parolees could be included in the program. She declined to comment on whether a private company or government agency would be responsible for the monitoring of offenders.

State Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg welcomed the electronic tagging, but said the Government needed to consider the core problem of criminals not being properly rehabilitated before release. Mr Springborg said 90% of serious sex offenders were being released form Queensland jails without undertaking the sex offender treatment program.

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