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Sex Offenders Register (ACT)

In the Australian Capital Territory, when a person is convicted and sentenced for certain sexual offences involving children, the person is placed on a Sex Offenders Register and required to report to police regularly. The register was created under the Crimes (Child Sex Offenders) Act 2005.

Aims of the register

The register requires a “registrable offender” to keep police informed of their personal details for a period of time to:

  • reduce the likelihood of reoffending;
  • help investigate and prosecute offences;
  • prevent offenders from working in child-related employment;
  • prohibit offenders from engaging in conduct that risks the lives or sexual safety of children.

Who goes on the register?

A “registrable offender” is a person who has been sentenced to a “registrable offence”, is the subject of a “child sex offender registration order” or a “prescribed  corresponding offender”. A registrable offence can be a Class 1 or 2 offence or one which results in the making of a sex offender registration order.

Class 1 offences include:

  • murder of a child;
  • sexual intercourse with a child.

Class 2 offences include:

  • indecent acts;
  • child pornography;
  • child kidnapping;
  • child prostitution;
  • child grooming.

A prescribed corresponding offender is a person from a foreign jurisdiction who has been, and would be, required to report in that jurisdiction.

If a court sentences a person to an offence that is not a Class1 or Class 2 offence but it is satisfied the person poses a risk to the sexual safety of a person in the community, the court can make an order that the person must be included in the register. The court can do this only on application by police.

Register exemptions

A person is not a registrable offender if they were a child at the time the registrable offence was committed, or if the court considers it is inappropriate to include the person on the register.

Before granting an exemption, the court must consider:

  • the severity of the offence and the seriousness of the circumstances of offence;
  • the age of the person at the time of the offending;
  • the level of harm to the victim and the community by the offence;
  • any attempts at rehabilitation;
  • whether he person poses a risk to the lives or sexual safety of anyone in the community;
  • any other matter it deems relevant.

What details go on the register?

Under the Act, the register must contain for each offender:

  • their name and any other identifying particulars;
  • details of each Class1, 2 or 3 offence of which they have been found guilty or with which they have been charged;
  • details of each offence that led to the making of a sex offender registration order in the past;
  • the date of sentencing for any registrable offence;
  • the date they were released from custody for a registrable offence;
  • any relevant information related to reporting obligations;
  • any other information deemed relevant.

A registrable offender is required to report within 7 days of being sentenced for a registrable offence or within 7 days of being released from prison, whichever is the  later.

At the first report, the registrable offender must report information including:

  • their name (including any past names) and date of birth;
  • the address of any premises they generally live and details to identify those premises;
  • names and ages of children with whom the offender normally lives or has unsupervised contact;
  • the nature of any employment and the employer’s details;
  • any affiliation with a club or organisation that involves children;
  • details of any vehicle owned or generally driven;
  • any tattoos or distinguishing marks;
  • any past sex offender registration order, in Australia or overseas;
  • any phone number or email address;
  • the name of any internet service provider they regularly use;
  • any identity, username, code or password they use online;
  • the frequency and destination of any intended regular travel out of the ACT;
  • passport details.

A registrable offender must report their personal information annually. Any change in personal information must be reported to police within 7 days unless it relates to living with children or having regular unsupervised contact with a child, in which case the reporting must be done within 24 hours.

A registrable offender must also notify police and provide details if they intend to leave the ACT for 7 or more consecutive days to travel in Australia, or to travel overseas.

How long does a person stay on the register?

A person is required to be on the register from when they are sentenced or from when they are released from prison if they are imprisoned for the offence. The period the person must remain on the register depends on the offence. For instance, for a single Class 2 offence, a person must report for 8 years, and for 2 or more Class 1 offences, a person must report for life.

Non-compliance with reporting

Unless a registrable person has a reasonable excuse, they must comply with reporting obligations. In assessing whether a person has a reasonable excuse, the court must consider:

  • the person’s age;
  • whether the person has a disability that affects their ability to understand, or to comply with, those obligations;
  • whether the person was adequately informed of their obligations, having regard to the person’s circumstances;
  • any other matters the court regards as appropriate.

The maximum penalty for non-compliance is a fine of 500 penalty units ($80,000), imprisonment for 5 years, or both.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Sally Crosswell

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

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