Sex abuse spotlight

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - War­ren Hately

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.

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