Sex abuse spotlight
Vasse MLA Libby Mettam has questioned whether monitoring of sex offenders in the Capes is on par with the metropolitan area.
Her concerns — aired in Parliament last week amid heated debate about sex offender laws — follow reports earlier this year about a Capes boy allegedly assaulted by a paedophile released into the community who was later believed to be socialising with other children.
Ms Mettam told the Times the issue showed the challenges of regional policing and a need for greater communication between Government agencies. “Ultimately, police monitoring activity is governed by how these individuals are categorised, and it appears that greater emphasis needs to be taken on past offending to reflect the potential for these past offenders to groom and reoffend,” she said.
“There are significant challenges to monitoring these offenders in regional areas and resourcing should reflect this.
“There is no doubt that regional communities are more vulnerable to these offenders.”
The MLA’s concerns were not soothed by the response from Police Minister Michelle Roberts, with detailed questions unanswered in Parliament because of operational confidentiality.
Police media said the South West District had a strategy whereby station chiefs and staff were aware of registered offenders living locally. “There is a strict local regime of reporting that is overseen by the two detectives offices in the district,” a spokesman said.
Officers also received disclosure from the National Child Offender System. “Regional-based police are responsible for their management,” the spokesman said.
Mrs Roberts told the Times regional police “proactively target and monitor the movements of reportable offenders”.
She said agencies already coordinated their monitoring and the Department of Communities funded behaviour programs in WA.
WA Police declined to provide figures for sex offenders living in the Vasse and Warren-Blackwood electorates, saying they did not have that information on hand.
In March, The West Australian reported the father of the allegedly assaulted boy believed the WA Police’s sex offender management squad should have known the paedophile was encouraging young boys to have contact with him in the South West.
The father said the alleged offender was also running a group giving him access to other young children.
Registered sex offenders must
report to monitors at least annually and report any changes in living arrangements, travel plans, or access to children. Police monitors also conduct spot checks, but it is not known how often checks are carried out, with more than 3500 registered offenders Statewide.
South West Labor MLC Adele Farina said the lack of Parliamentary response was appropriate for operational matters. Police would be in a better position to clarify the local abuse claim after their investigation concluded, she said.
“It is not clear to me how the questions asked by Libby Mettam would help in this case as they are of a very general nature and it would be dangerous to form conclusions based on this information in isolation,” she said.