Sex offenders living in our community

At any one time, dozens of sex offenders are living in our community - sparking a call from a victim and leader of a lobby group to have them named and their location made public.
Figures released to the Bay of Plenty Times by the Corrections Department revealed there were 27 sex offenders living under supervision in the Western Bay of Plenty as at September 30.
Of those, 15 had committed offences against a child aged 16 or younger, and two were living under extended supervision orders - meaning they had been assessed as at the highest risk of reoffending sexually against children.
The special order, able to be imposed for up to 10 years, could also apply to those with offences relating to child pornography or sexual offences against victims with significant impairments.
The Corrections Department defined the Western Bay of Plenty as Tauranga City, Katikati, Kaimai, Te Puke and Maketu - with the exception of Waihi Beach - but refused to narrow down the number of offenders in each town.
Responding to that specific request by the newspaper, Community Probation Services (CPS) general manager Katrina Casey stated that as the volume of offenders was low, releasing the locations of offenders could make it possible to locate and identify individuals.
One Western Bay woman, who was the victim of an indecent assault in 2007, but did not want to name him out of fear of a reprisal, said it was "very scary" that 27 sex offenders were living around her.
The thought made her feel "paranoid" and she felt their names and addresses should be publicly identified. "I think they should stop protecting them."
Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesperson Garth McVicar believed the country should adopt some of the hard measures he knew of in the US - including signs on sections reading "Sex Offender Lives Here".


"In California, I believe they have a different-coloured number plate for sex offenders."
"I'd like to see an open and honest system. The safety of the public should be put above the rights of the offender."
Mr McVicar said the justice system was "unfair" toward sexual abuse victims.
"The system we have is weighted toward the offender."
Mr McVicar said of the 1200 victims of sex offenders his group had advocated for, most were women and many were also young men. "I often deal with these people, and their lives have just been destroyed."
Sexual abuse counsellor advocate Denise McEnteer, who is coordinating the newly-formed Tauranga Sexual Assault Support Services Trust, was also dissatisfied with the system.
She was unhappy with the length of time court trials took, that offenders had to appear on the stand and the impact the process had on victims.
Ms McEnteer said while different circumstances of sexual abuse carried different impacts, many victims were left with low self-esteem and sometimes tried to blame themselves.
Ms McEnteer felt most Western Bay residents would be "outraged" to know nearly 30 sex offenders lived in their community.
"It conjures up all sorts of emotions. It's not a subject that any of us are comfortable with, generally speaking."
But Ms McEnteer was unsure about Mr McVicar's suggestion of signs being placed on sex offender's houses.
"Why not make them responsible for their actions by insisting that they go around houses and inform their neighbourhood that they are sex offenders, rather than having a sign that would incite further violence."
Tauranga police Inspector Karl Wright-St Clair said the suggestion was not something police would comment on.
As at September 30 there were 69 sex offenders living across the wider Waiariki CPS area, which incorporated Opotiki, Taupo, Rotorua and Whakatane.
Thirty-seven of those were child sex offenders and two were subjected to extended supervision.
The Corrections Department defined sex offenders living under supervision as those with a conviction for a sexual offence as part of their current aggregate sentence on any sentence administered by CPS.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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