Sex offender squad faces axe

Budget cuts: Police leaders are reviewing spending. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

A specialist WA Police squad responsible for monitoring thousands of convicted sex predators could be axed as part of a push to shave millions off the police budget's bottom line.

A high-level razor gang has been examining the operations of the sex offender management squad, which tracks the movements of more than 3000 rapists and paedophiles living in the community.

The squad also monitors about 20 offenders who are classified as dangerous, such as the recently released serial rapist known only as TJD.

But despite the importance of the work it does, senior police have refused to guarantee the unit's survival.

"All business units in WA Police are being scrutinised as part of the Frontline 2020 Reform Program," Acting Deputy Commissioner Paul Zanetti said.

But Mr Zanetti denied any decision about the future of SOMS - or any other specialist unit - had been made.

The recidivism rate for those monitored by SOMS is less than one per cent, well below other jurisdictions.

Police working in the unit fear any attempt to close them down will lead to that rate going up.

If the unit was scrapped, suburban detectives could be forced to pick up the workload.

"Any suggestion that there have been proposals put forward or decisions made regarding State crime are completely untrue," Mr Zanetti said.

Hetty Johnston, founder of child protection group Bravehearts, urged WA Police to look elsewhere to find savings.

"Any talk of scaling back in this climate - especially with the Royal Commission running - is just dangerous and irresponsible," Ms Johnston said.

SOMS was formed in 2005 after the establishment of a national sex offender register.

Those on the register have to meet regularly with a case officer - usually an experienced police detective - and disclose any changes to their personal circumstances including travel plans, the car they own, where they live and who they work for. Offenders who are considered dangerous - like TJD - must comply with stricter conditions such as wearing a GPS tracker, night-time curfews and bans on drinking alcohol.

Shadow police minister Michelle Roberts called on Police Minister Liza Harvey to intervene and guarantee the future of SOMS.

"These are crimes that the community find abhorrent and any winding back of this would disturb me greatly," Mrs Roberts said.