The Department of Corrections is reviewing how it carried out community consultation over placing four child sex offenders in a central Whangarei house which was close to childcare centres, schools and a popular park.
Corrections yesterday confirmed the four men released from prison on strict conditions after being convicted of sex crimes against children had been moved from the Dent St property on Monday and they were no longer in Whangarei.
Staff at three early childcare centres within a few hundred metres of the facility said they were not consulted and were unaware of the facility until the Northern Advocate last week revealed the bungalow opened last December to house offenders on strict conditions.
The facility was within a few hundred metres of three childcare centres, a children's playground, a community hall used by various community and youth groups, and overlooked Laurie Hall Park, a popular thoroughfare for students from nearby schools, with a playground used by young children.
Corrections had contracted People At Risk Solutions (PARS) to manage the 12-week transitional supported accommodation service which helps offenders comply with their prison release conditions.
Corrections operations director Lynette Cave confirmed no child sex offenders would be placed in the Dent St home but would not say if Corrections would continue to run the facility for other offenders on release from jail.
"Corrections is conducting a review into how we engaged with the community regarding the placement of child sex offenders in supported accommodation. This will allow us to identify what we can do differently in future," Ms Cave said.
"We are always open to improving how we engage with concerned communities to ensure they know their safety always comes first."
Three Corrections staff visited two early childhood centres and one school on Monday and were visiting remaining schools and childhood centres in Whangarei yesterday."It was to discuss their concerns and how we can better build the community's understanding of how we work with service providers to safely manage community-based offenders," Ms Cave said.
Beverly Ngaropo, the chair of Forum North Childcare centre, on Dent St, said the centre was visited in October by two people saying they were from PARS.
"At no time during this visit was it mentioned offenders were to be housed in our immediate community. We were told the visit was purely to introduce themselves and would be visiting all schools and early childcare centres in the Whangarei area," Mrs Ngaropo said.
"This is not consultation in any way, shape or form, no matter how you look at it."
She said if there had been mention of child sex offenders being housed 100m away, the centre's response would have been "unequivocally no".
On Monday three Corrections staff members visited the centre and apologised and reassured them no more offenders of that nature would be housed there, Mrs Ngaropo said.