Push for GPS tagging after more sex offenders caught in child-heavy areas

Child sex offenders could be tagged with GPS monitors after an increase in the number of predators reported near Victorian schools, parks and childcare centres.

Nearly three dozen offenders were caught loitering around “child-heavy” areas last year according to Victoria Police, with the number growing steadily since 2012.

The number of convicted predators found hanging around these areas has grown from 29 incidents in the year ending September 2014, and 19 for the 12 months previous.

Compensation and counselling service Victims of Crime is campaigning for electronic monitoring for all serious sex offenders.

Victorian Commissioner for Victims of Crime Greg Davies said tracking devices should be mandatory “until [offenders] can prove they pose no threat to the community”.

“It should be up to them to prove themselves, not the community to welcome them with open arms and nothing but their promise that they’ve reformed,” Mr Davies told the Herald Sun.

Child abuse prevention organisation Child Wise supports the idea of GPS monitoring, citing the technology was not widely used.

National head of Child Wise, Penelope McEncroe, said it was known sex offenders were likely to re-offend, so more proactive measures need to be put in place.

Child Wise's Penelope McEncroe called for more proactive measures to prevent child sex offenders to reoffend. Picture: childwise.org.au

“We know sex offenders are recidivist … We shouldn’t wait for them to reoffend,” she said.

Ms McEncroe said parents had a right to know where such incidents were taking place, but was mindful a public sex offenders register could incite “vigilante behaviour”.

“If someone is a recidivist offender and is living in the community, then I think parents need to be armed with as much information as possible to prevent their child having any interaction with that person,” she said.

Superintendent David Watt, from the Intelligence and Covert Support Command, said victims were most often known to the offender, but didn’t want to rule out random attacks.

Forensic psychologists work within the offender management team to try and understand factors likely to influence registered sex offenders and prevent future attacks, he said.

“We’re ramping up our interaction with them when we identify that we think there might be an increased level of risk.”

Supt Watt encouraged parents to report any unusual behaviour to triple-0 to assist the offender management team in gathering information.

“Don’t go home and think, ‘that was really unusual’ … If you call straight away and give a description, we have a really good chance of identifying who the person might be.”