Queensland police are struggling to keep tabs on the rising number of sex offenders on the child protection register, a report into the scheme suggests.
- The review found the volume of offenders “poses a challenge” for police
- One officer said there was “no time” for proactive compliance
- The report made 23 recommendations
About 3,163 sex offenders were required to report to police across the state last year – a figure authorities say increases by at least 100 every year.
A review by the state’s Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) found the volume of these offenders “poses a challenge” to police.
One officer told the CCC it can take “years” to do proactive visits on middle- to low-risk offenders.
“While some police officers interviewed described managing their reportable offender workload comfortably, most interviewees described challenges in conducting proactive checks on their reportable offenders,” the report said.
“Comments included: “By the time I get through tasking there’s no time to do [proactive] compliance” and “We generally can’t get to low or medium risk [offenders], it can take years [to get to see them].”
The report found the challenge to monitor offenders “is not unique to Queensland, police resourcing to meet the workload has been identified as an area of concern in the recent reviews in Victoria and New South Wales”.
Of the 79 specialist QPS members who monitor reportable offenders’ compliance, 17 agreed to be interviewed for the review.
The CCC’s review said police officers reported some offenders “shouldn’t be” on the child protection register, and this “may dilute” police efforts.
“The increase to reporting periods [when the recent amendments take effect] risks further diluting police efforts,” the report said.
Meanwhile, it also said there was a knowledge gap about “offender reporting orders”, meaning it was “likely” that offenders who “should be” on the child protection register are not.
The CCC’s review made 23 recommendations, including amending the legislation to increase the scope for judicial discretion about whether a person should be made a reportable offender.
Other recommendations include reviewing reporting periods and for the Queensland government to commit to independent research on the scheme to estimate its overall protective impact.
In a statement, Police Minister Mark Ryan said the government made “no apology for cracking down on child sex offenders with stronger laws and more resources for the QPS”.
“The government will always be on the side of children,” he said.
“This is exactly why we doubled reporting periods for child sex offenders from five to 10 years for the first reportable offence and from 10 to 20 years for a second reportable offence.”
He said the allocation of police resources was a matter for QPS Commissioner Katarina Carroll, but he said the number of CPOR coordinators had doubled in recent years, with plans to double the number of personnel allocated to the register again in the coming years.
“The QPS can draw on the resources of all officers in the Queensland Police Service in the monitoring of child sex offenders, and that is what happens when required,” he said.
He said the government and the QPS will consider the recommendations from the CCC review.
Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said it was an “alarming report”.