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Child Protection Register (NSW)

The Child Protection Register holds the details of child sex offenders who may continue to pose a danger to children. The register was created under the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000. A child is defined as a person aged under 18.

Aims of the register

The logic behind the register is that child sex offenders are prone to reoffending, and recording the details of offenders in a register will help prevent and detect child sex offences.

The aims of the register are:

  • increase and improve the accuracy of child sex offender information held by police;
  • help investigate and prosecute child sex offences committed by recidivist offenders;
  • deter re-offending;
  • help monitor and manage child sex offenders in the community;
  • provide a better sense of security for child abuse victims and their families.

Who goes on the register?

A “registrable person” is a person who has committed a Class 1 or Class 2 offence.

Class 1 offences include:

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

Class 2 offences include:

  • manslaughter of a child;
  • indecent acts;
  • possession of child pornography;
  • child kidnapping;
  • grooming offences.

These definitions extend to attempting, inspiring, or inciting such offences, and committing any like offence in another jurisdiction.

A person who is sentenced for a class 1 or 2 offence must register. Detention under the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990 is included as a relevant sentence.

The only exemptions to registration are where charges are dismissed under section 10 of the Crimes Sentencing Act 1999 or section 33(1)(a) of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987, or where a child is convicted of a single sex offence.

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 danger to children, the court can make an order that the person must register.

What details go on the register?

Since the legislation took effect in 2000, the details required for the register have become more extensive due to several amendments. At first, a person was required to provide basic information such as their address, employment details and vehicle registration. Then, the register required additional information such as tattoos and distinguishing marks, interstate or overseas travel, regular contact with children, and any affiliation with a club or organisation attended by children. Now the register also requires information about internet service providers, user names or any other names or identities used online, as well as DNA profiles, fingerprints and photographs.

A registrable person must report their personal information annually. Any change in personal information must be reported to police within 7 days unless the change is related to living with a child, in which case the reporting must be done within 24 hours.

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 a Class 1 and Class 2 offence, a person must report for life.

Non-compliance with register 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 matter prescribed by regulations;
  • any other matters the court regards as appropriate.

The maximum penalty for non-compliance is 500 penalty units ($55,000) or imprisonment for 5 years or both.

Other safeguards

Under the Child Protection (Offenders Prohibition Orders) Act 2004 a local court can make orders that prohibit a registrable person from engaging in specified conduct. The court can make an order if it is satisfied “there is reasonable cause to believe, having regard to the nature and pattern of conduct of the person, that the person poses a risk to the lives or sexual safety of one or more children, or children generally” and the order would reduce that risk.

An order may prohibit the registrable person from:

  • contact with their victim or co-accused;
  • being in specified locations;
  • engaging in specified behaviour;
  • being in specified employment.

Another safeguard is the Working With Children Check system. A Working With Children Check clearance is generally required by those who work or volunteer with children in “child-related work” in New South Wales. The system aims to keep children safe from harm by assessing and monitoring those involved in activities such as childcare, education and sport. Under the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 No 51, a Working With Children Check clearance must not be granted to a person who has committed offences as an adult that include murder, manslaughter of a child, grievous bodily harm of a child, rape, or sexual offences against a child.

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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