Sex felons in the Bay

By Amy McGillivray

Tauranga Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Ken Evans
Tauranga Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Ken Evans

More than 40 sex offenders are serving their sentences or on parole in Bay of Plenty communities, a figure described as "frightening" by a local lobby group leader.

Figures released to the Bay of Plenty Times showed there were 45 sex offenders serving community-based sentences or orders in the Bay of Plenty.

Of those, 10 were serving supervision, intensive supervision or extended supervision sentences.

Offenders on an extended supervision were high-risk child sex offenders who had served their prison sentence. Orders are issued by the court and could be imposed for up to 10 years. The intensity of supervision could range from a standard parole-style system to 24/7 monitoring which could include GPS ankle bracelets.

The Department of Corrections refused to release Bay of Plenty figures to the newspaper when an initial request was lodged in October 2012, citing the need to "protect the safety of any person" and "protect the privacy of individuals".

The department provided the figures after the Bay of Plenty Times lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman.

The Office of the Ombudsman last month suggested it was "difficult to see how disclosure of the figures would enable anyone to be identified and therefore it was difficult to see how anyone's privacy would be breached by disclosure of the figures" and asked the Department of Corrections to reconsider its decision.

Tauranga Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Ken Evans said he would like to see all sex offenders kept behind bars.

"The Bay of Plenty is not that big, it seems like a tremendous amount. For them to let them out in our community is very frightening. Parents with little children must be traumatised," he said.

"It seems like it's a case of let them out and not think about the safety of the community. If they are in a cell I have confidence they are in a place where they can't hurt New Zealanders or children."

"These people are driven by some evil inside them that makes them what they are," he said.

"If they've served their sentence it doesn't mean they are cured. I think the department needs to be taken to task and say what improvements have they made while they have been in custody.

"They know and I know that sex offenders simply continue on being sex offenders."

Mr Evans said communities needed to know when a sex offender was living among them and needed to be reassured they would be closely monitored. Sensible Sentencing has a database of sex offenders and their whereabouts on its website.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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