Petition Change the sex offenders register to start the day of release from prison.
If a person convicted of a sexual offence against a child receives a 3 year sentence it’s standard for them to be on the register for a minimum of 5 years, but that means just 2 years on the register once released at which point they can apply to come off the register.
The register allows the courts to make orders restricting activities of people who are sexual predators or who may sexually exploit children and vulnerable people.
It also requires the Chief of police and certain Ministers to enter into an agreement setting out general arrangements that need to be put into effect to assess and manage persons who pose a risk of sexual harm.
Starting the register whilst inside seems futile. They are no danger to society whilst inside and do not require monitoring.
This response was given on 23 July 2021
The Minister supports the principle of this petition, however the necessary legislative amendments require consultation with relevant parties and are unlikely to be achievable within this term.
The Minister considers the proposal in this petition to be sensible and would be supportive of such a change. He is also cognisant of the strength of public feeling with regard to these matters.
As the petitioner correctly asserts, offenders who have committed certain sexual offences or sexually aggravated offences (a relevant offence), become subject to notification requirements upon conviction under the Sex Offenders (Jersey) Law 2010 (the Law), in order to protect the public from the potential harms that they may pose were they to reoffend.
In the case of a person convicted of a relevant offence, the Law provides that the required notification must be given on the day of the conviction, and on the anniversary of that date.
It is therefore a requirement of the Law that an offender becomes subject to the notification requirements upon conviction, and any change to this would require an amendment to primary legislation.
During their time subject to such notification they must provide certain information about their circumstances to an authorised officer, are subject to a level supervision by the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (JMAPPA) and may be subject to other conditions as deemed necessary by the Court.
Article 5(4) of the Law provides that unless the court is satisfied that there is a reason why a shorter period would be appropriate, the notification period given should be at least 5 years. The 5 years referenced by the petitioner is therefore the default minimum period that someone is likely to be subject to these notification requirements. The court has the discretion to order that someone is subject notification requirements for as long as they see fit.
In determining the time an offender should be subject to notification requirements, the Court will do so in full regard that the notification period begins at the point of conviction. The Court is therefore well placed to determine whether sufficient time subject to notification will be served in the community and can make a notification order accordingly.
When the period of notification imposed by the Court expires, this allows an application to be made to the Court to request that someone no longer be subject to the notification requirements. A person is not automatically relieved of the notification requirements when the period expires.
In fact, the Law requires that the Court must not make an order for someone to no longer be subject to the notification requirements unless it is satisfied that the risk of sexual harm posed to the public by the person subject to the notification requirements does not justify the person’s being subject to those requirements. If the Court is not satisfied of this it must, under the law, refuse to make the order releasing the person from notification requirements, and set a further period before which such an application is made.
This provides an important level of oversight which assists with safeguarding our community, providing for a much more rigorous and thorough assessment of risk, unlike many other jurisdictions where the period of registration simply finishes without any statutory assessment.
In order to make the amendment requested in this petition it would be necessary to make an amendment to primary legislation.
This would necessitate the allocation of both policy and law drafting officers at a time when both of these areas are under pressure to deliver other important projects, which were themselves delayed as result of the Covid pandemic.
The Minister considers that, given the current arrangements provide a sufficient safeguard against potential harm that sex offenders pose, it would not be proportionate to delay other important pieces of work such as the Domestic Abuse Law, for which there are arguably not adequate protections for vulnerable victims in place.
Additionally, it would not be appropriate for the office of the Minister to seek to make such a legislative amendment without first consulting with other relevant parties, and in particular the Courts and Judiciary.
Whilst the Minister recognises the merit in this proposal and would be supportive of such an amendment, for the reasons set out above it is not deemed likely that this will be achievable in this term of office.
The Minister is satisfied that the current arrangements provide a sufficient level of protection, for the reasons mentioned above, and would wish to reassure Islanders that there are safeguards in place to ensure that those who pose a risk to our community are monitored appropriately.
At 5,000 signatures...
At 5,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in the States Assembly