A convicted paedophile has had access to children while working in a Hastings factory as part of the Department of Corrections "return to work" scheme - and his co-workers were never told.
At the time, the man had been working at the factory for about six weeks, as one of 17 inmates in the department's scheme.
The children of other staff were able to come into the factory at lunchtime and after school.
The man's employment at the factory came to light about two months ago after Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar received a telephone call and an e-mail from mothers concerned about the situation.
He said the women were shocked to find they were working with a convicted paedophile and had not been told of his presence. They asked Mr McVicar to contact the factory manager.
"Their main concern was that they hadn't been told," he said.
Mr McVicar raised the women's issues with the manager of the factory, who said he felt he had done everything he needed to do.
Despite describing the manager's reaction to his queries as "fantastic", Mr McVicar felt he should have told his staff of the paedophile working with them.
Mr McVicar, who would not release the name of the factory or the paedophile's name, said there needed to be greater openness from the Department of Corrections.
"Take the public with you. I think New Zealanders have the potential to be forgiving if they find they are included." However there was more likely to be a backlash if they were kept out of the process, he said.
Mr McVicar said he had spoken to Hawke's Bay Prison manager Peter Grant and Department of Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews, who both agreed there was a need for more openness.
It is understood there are no other work-scheme situations in Hawke's Bay similar to that of the paedophile working at the factory.
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11:57 AM Monday May 8, 2006