Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide a summary and general overview only. It is not intended to be, nor does it constitute, legal advice. You should seek legal advice from a barrister or solicitor working in the area of criminal law and/or human rights law before acting or relying on any of its content.
The operation of the Child Protection Register (often referred to as the Sex Offenders Register) in New South Wales is governed by two pieces of legislation.
The Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 (NSW) provides that registrable persons must register with police and provide relevant personal details, while the Child Protection (Offenders Prohibition Orders) Act 2004 (NSW) grants Local Courts the authority to make orders restricting the conduct of registrable persons. The rationale behind the register is largely offender-focused in that it is aimed at reoffending or recidivism.
Unlike in other jurisdictions, especially the United States of America, this register is not made public.
Class 1 or Class 2 offences
Under the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 (NSW) there are two classes of offences whereby the offender must be registered:
Class 1 offences include the murder of a child and sexual intercourse with a child;
Class 2 offences include acts of indecency, grooming, kidnapping, sexual servitude, child prostitution, child pornography, voyeurism and sexual acts with children (other than intercourse).
A registrable person is required to report his/her relevant personal details (see below) to the Commissioner of Police each year and to report any change of these details within 14 days.
There are two exemptions to this requirement of registration:
Where the charges are dismissed under Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) or Section 33(1)(a) of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 (NSW);
Where the offender is a child and convicted of a single offence of indecency, possession of child pornography or filming for sexual gratitude.
Personal Details Recorded on the Register
The list of offenders’ personal details that are to be recorded on the register is extensive. It includes:
Names and aliases
Date of birth
Principal place of residence
Details of motor cars
Details of registrable offences
Names and ages of children with whom they reside or with whom they have unsupervised contact
Details of any club or organisation that has child participation or membership that they are involved with
Details of any tattoos or distinguishing marks
Dates of interstate absences of over 14 days and of regular shorter absences
Internet service providers
Details and types of internet connection
Details of email addresses, internet user names, instant messaging user names, chat room user names, etc.
Details of social media accounts e.g. Facebook, Instagram etc
Photographs of the offenders.
Length of Time Offenders Remain on the Register
For a single Class 2 offence, the offender remains on the register for a period of 8 years. For a single Class 1 offence or two Class 2 offences, the time of the register is 15 years. For a Class 1 and Class 2 offence, or more than two registrable offences, the offender remains on the register for life. For child offenders, these periods are halved and there is a maximum of 7.5 years.
Working with Children
Registrable persons are prohibited from working with children. This is governed by the Child Protection (Working With Children) Act 2012 (NSW), which includes all registrable offences among the list of those offences that automatically disqualify a person from receiving clearance to work with children.
The behaviour of offenders on the register can be further controlled via the imposition of a Child Protection Prohibition Order. Under the Child Protection (Offenders Prohibition Orders) Act 2004 (NSW), the police can apply to the Local Court for such an order, which will be granted if the Court has reasonable cause to believe that the person poses a risk to the lives or sexual safety of children and that a prohibitive order will reduce that risk. Typically, these orders will prevent registered offenders from being in the company of young persons, from being at places frequented by young persons, from engaging in certain types of behaviour or from being in specified employment. Such orders can be extremely restrictive and have maximum effective terms of 5 years for adult offenders and 2 years for child offenders.
Offences of Non-Compliance
In the absence of a “reasonable excuse”, a registered offender who fails to comply with his/her annual reporting requirements or supplies incorrect information is guilty of an offence, both of which carry maximum penalties of 5 years’ imprisonment. Similarly, it is an offence to breach a prohibition order and this carries a maximum penalty of 2 years’ imprisonment.
For further information contact Sebastian De Brennan, Barrister at Three Wentworth Chambers in Sydney.