A man with more than 500 convictions, including the rape of a 7-year-old girl, is living in Westport after spending most of his life behind bars.

It is understood the Corrections Department relocated the man, in his late 50s, to Westport after he was released from prison in 2014.

He had been jailed for breaching the conditions of a 10-year extended supervision order, ordered by the High Court in March 2010.

In June 2001, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for raping a 7-year-old girl. He was released in 2007.

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The man also has a raft of dishonesty convictions, most recently for a crime spree committed while on parole in Christchurch in 2012.

Since living in Westport, he has breached his extended supervision order twice - once by consuming alcohol and once by letting his electronic monitoring bracelet go flat. Last month he was sentenced to three months' home detention instead of being sent back to prison.

A Westport woman, who asked not to be named, fears for the wellbeing of local children. She lives near the man, whose home is within 1km of a daycare centre and a primary school.

"I fear for the kids in this town, I fear for the people in this town," the woman said.

She knew of a woman with young children, who also lived near him, who was preparing to leave Westport after finding out about his crimes.

It was important people were aware he was living in the community, she said.

Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar said the fact the man wasn't sent back to prison for breaching extended supervision a second time was "pretty disgusting".

His history of offending showed he struggled with being a law-abiding citizen, he said.

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Community Corrections district manager Polly Cunningham said a significant amount of work went into approving a suitable address for a child sex offender.

"We carry out a thorough assessment of the address that the offender plans to reside at."

That included checking the property itself, any shared driveways, a visual check of neighbouring properties, proximity of the house to schools, kindergartens, parks, swimming pools, libraries, thoroughfares and other places frequented by children.

In the event that a family with children moved into the area, Corrections would assess the situation and work with all parties involved to ensure their safety, she said. If the address was deemed to be no longer suitable, Corrections would work with the offender to find a new property.

Notifying the community or neighbours was considered on a case-by-case basis. If specific potential risks were identified, Corrections and police might contact neighbours to advise an offender was living in the area, Ms Cunningham said.

The man has been described as a career criminal, with a rap sheet 20-pages long. He first went to prison at the age of 16.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust's database said he had two convictions for rape and convictions for indecent offences against two girls under 12 years old in 1999, for which he was jailed for one year.

The man also has a raft of convictions for dishonesty. In 2013, he reportedly duped nine Christchurch stores, including liquor outlets and jewellers, while on parole. He stole over $11,500 worth of goods during the six-week crime spree before being caught.

Over the same period, he gave money to a 13-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl while talking to them through a car window - in breach of his extended supervision order.

While the order is in place, the man is forbidden from associating with or contacting children under the age of 16 unless supervised by an approved adult.

- Westport News