Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Problem With Common Sense, Is That It Isn't

April 24, 2013, 6:21 am

Sex register gets 500 hits a day

"The public sex offender register has been visited an average of 500 times a day in the six months since it went online, WA Police statistics have revealed.

But only four requests have been lodged by parents or carers seeking information about adults who have regular unsupervised contact with their children.

No details published on the website have led to information from the public which helped police find offenders who failed to comply with reporting requirements.

Sex offender management squad officers are not aware of any charges relating to vigilante behaviour. [not aware of charges, oh, nothing must have happened then ... also, early days, yet]

The statistics, which do not indicate whether visits to the website have tapered off since its launch, could include multiple visits to the website and requests for information by the same people.

The register includes three tiers that provide varying levels of access and information about different categories of child sex offenders. Legislation introduced with the register also includes penalties for vigilante behaviour and re-publication of information from the website.

Police Minister Liza Harvey said despite claims by critics of the website that it would lead to vigilante behaviour and a flood of inquiries about the sex offender status of individuals, the public had behaved responsibly in the use of the website.

"The high level of traffic and inquiries about paedophiles [sic] in their locality indicate that there is a strong public interest in information about absconded, serious and repeat offenders being made public," Mrs Harvey said.

"Given that research has shown [which?] that access to such resources increases the likelihood of parents engaging in protective behaviours with their children [fear], this is a victory for common sense and community safety."

But shadow police minister Michelle Roberts said the statistics, which indicated only a small proportion of WA residents had used the site, did no more than confirm a high level of anxiety in the community about sex offenders. She called for a random survey of visitors to the website to determine the use and effectiveness of the information provided.

Mrs Roberts said vigilante behaviour had been prevented because the legislation and register were significantly different from the election promise of the Liberals in the lead-up to the 2008 poll."

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