News

Academics warn against the dangers of sex offender registers

CALLS for a sex offender registry have gathered momentum since the Daniel Morcombe case, but legal groups warn it could lead to vigilantism.

Once the verdict was read out last month and convicted killer Brett Peter Cowan was sentenced for the murder of the Sunshine Coast teenager, the media could finally report on Cowan's past - that revealed he had twice been to jail for attacks on two other boys.

Queensland University of Technology School of Justice lecturer Dr Kelly Richards said she was opposed to the idea of a sex offender registry as it provided people with a false sense of security.

"The role that it plays is to placate angry and frightened people in the community," she said.

The role that it plays is to placate angry and frightened people in the community.

"But the lynch mob issue is a serious one."

Dr Richards said Australia should instead consider support group programs such as Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) to help with reintegration into society.

"It originated in Canada but has been widely used in places across the US, UK and New Zealand," she said.

"COSA is a group of trained volunteers that act as support network for sexual offenders to help them with things like accommodation and employment.

"And the other side of it is the accountability side of things where volunteers work with police and correction staff, counsellors and so on to keep an eye on these offenders."

Dr Richards said the volunteers monitored problematic behaviours among the offenders and because these crimes thrived in secrecy and isolation this group broke that cycle.

Would you support a sex offender register?

This poll ended on 09 April 2014.

No, I do not support the idea of a sex offender register - 26%

I'd support a register only if it had detailed information to avoid mistaken identity - 30%

I would support a sex offender register - 37%

I'm not sure - 4%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

"If the offender is exhibiting those trigger behaviours then the circle will report that to the authorities," she said.

"There have been some rigorous studies of it and it showed dramatic reductions in reoffending."

CQUniversity School of Law lecturer Lance Rundle said any government that considered a sex offender registry would need strict controls on who could access this information.

"Say for example there is a person with a similar name or a paedophile has moved from an address and it hasn't been updated on this register," he said.

"You could end up with the wrong person being accused of a crime."

Mr Rundle said if a person reoffended in a small community it would be difficult for them to gain a fair trial.

"That might be difficult in places like Bundaberg or Rockhampton."

Topics:  daniel morcombe, editors picks, pedophiles




New app made specially for stepfamilies

Higher income earners with a household income of $200,000 or more per annum were more likely to underestimate their financial position, with 44 per cent rating themselves as middle class.

Stepfamilies are the new normal

Island residents shocked after attack on likeable paramedic

Eurong resident David Anderson works as a first responder on Fraser

Latest deals and offers

Reno stars want tradies to focus a little more on one thing

The Demmrichs want Tradies to look after their most important tool

Day 2 Splendour Pictures

Sticky Fingers perform at Splendour in the Grass 2016. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

Splendour in the Grass Day 2 covered in pictures.

WATCH: News reader tries her hand at hardcore shooter, Doom

Veteran journo and noob gamer takes a shot at Doom

What's on the small screen this week

MasterChef Australia's final four contestants, from left, Harry Foster, Elena Duggan, Elise Franciskovic and Matt Sinclair.

MASTERCHEF makes way for The Bachelor on Ten's reality TV slate.

Guy Sebastian a hit at Splendour in the Grass

Guy Sebastian performs at Splendour in the Grass with Paces.

REALITY TV judge a hit with festival crowd.

Superheroes of the big screen enjoy sounds of Splendour

CHRIS Hemsworth and his Avengers mates drop by Byron festival.

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

The climb is slow but property on the way up

Michael Matusik, director of Matusik Property Insights.Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin

The improvement would be mild when compared to past cycles