Monday, August 13, 2007

Australia: Pedophile rights trump the safety of children

THOUSANDS of pedophiles living in Queensland have been promised their whereabouts will be kept a secret. The State Government has refused to reveal any details about the whereabouts of 1878 pedophiles living under release conditions which force them to regularly report to police. Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson further refused to even reveal in which prison a further 558 offenders are being held pending release.

The decision comes after The Courier-Mail was told by a highly-placed source of concerns that pedophiles were developing networks after their release from jail. The Townsville region has been highlighted as an area of concern, with a relatively high number of reportable offenders in the area.

Commissioner Atkinson said personal details about reportable sex offenders were restricted. "Careful consideration was given to the decision not to release statistics on pedophiles on a town-by-town basis in Queensland," Mr Atkinson said. "Issues such as potential vigilante activity and a balance between the prevention of public fear versus actual risk . . . were considered. "In addition, it is understood that publicity can drive pedophiles into hiding, reducing reporting compliance rates and making it more difficult for police to monitor their activities," Mr Atkinson said. "The decision (not to release the information) was based on legislative requirements . . . which states that the release of personal information is to be restricted to the greatest extent possible, and on public interest."

Sex offenders are listed on the Queensland Child Offender Register and have to report regularly to police. Under the Child Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2004, only the Police Commissioner can release information about reportable sex offenders. The Courier-Mail did not ask for the names of the offenders or their street addresses.

The matter came after a manhunt was sparked last month for serial rapist Robert Fardon, who failed to meet with his Brisbane parole officer. Fardon, 54, who had served a 14-year-jail sentence in Townsville Correctional Centre for rape, sodomy and assault on a woman in 1988, was caught hours later outside Ayr in north Queensland.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission has previously raised concerns about the emergence of pedophile networks. CMC intelligence director Chris Keen had previously said pedophiles, especially those who use the internet, are maintaining contact with other known offenders after leaving prison. "They are certainly forming associations (within jail and in the community) and that is a point of concern," Mr Keen said. "There's a concern that they can learn and provide support to each other, as far as moral support." Offenders on the police database have committed sexual or serious offences against children.

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(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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