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Stronger Powers for Victorian Police to Monitor Sex Offenders

May 11 – The state of Victoria today unveiled a suite of new laws to give Victoria Police stronger powers to better monitor and investigate registered sex offenders.

Under the changes to the Sex Offenders Registration Act, police will have the ability to take DNA and fingerprints from convicted sex offenders without a court order.

This includes those convicted for crimes interstate or internationally. Victoria Police will be given powers to back capture DNA or fingerprints from those offenders already on the Sex Offenders Register, but who did not previously have a court order to have DNA or fingerprints taken.

Police will also have new powers to search registered sex offenders, and their homes, to ensure compliance with their reporting obligations.  A new search warrant scheme will be established to make it easier for police to be able to undertake searches, even for minor breaches, and will require suspects and witnesses to provide information or assistance, including computer passwords.

The changes being introduced today also mean that those under 18 years of age who are placed on the Sex Offenders Register will be prohibited from engaging in child related employment. In addition, anyone convicted with the torture of children, in any form, will be automatically included on the Sex Offenders Register.

Registered sex offenders without a fixed address will have to provide more details about their whereabouts, including the addresses of any refuges, shelters or parks they’re sleeping in on a regular basis.  The legislation also brings Victoria into line with most other states and territories, including New South Wales and Queensland, by acknowledging that there are some limited cases of 18 and 19 year olds where automatic inclusion on the Sex Offenders Register does not reflect the nature of the incident.

In cases involving 18 and 19 year olds where there is no ongoing threat to the community, including cases of ‘sexting’ or where there was an otherwise consenting relationship with one person under 16, the person who was convicted can apply for a court to consider whether they should be exempt from automatic registration as a sex offender.

Police can oppose any applications for exemptions that they consider could place the community at risk.  Quotes attributable to Minister for Police Lisa Neville “Victoria Police requested these new powers, to ensure we have the most robust sex offenders register scheme possible, to keep the community safe – especially our children.” “These new laws make sure that no stone will be left unturned by Victoria Police, as they work to keep the community safe from sexual offenders.”