Debate over whether to launch a national sex offenders register has been reignited following the conviction of Daniel Morcombe’s killer.
While Daniel Morcombe’s mother wants all sex offenders tracked on a public register, the idea is yet to gain traction outside Western Australia.
Civil libertarians, academics and child protection advocates say a register could push pedophiles underground or lead to vigilantism.
The Queensland government is closely monitoring Western Australia’s program and Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has reservations.
“It’s in the mix at the moment, we’re reviewing all sex offender laws,” he told Fairfax Radio.
“I’m yet to be convinced, because we haven’t seen yet the results.”
Other senior ministers haven’t yet supported the idea, with John-Paul Langbroek concerned it would lead to hate crimes.
Debate about a register was reignited after serial pedophile and child rapist Brett Peter Cowan, 44, was sentenced last week to at least 20 years’ jail for the December 2003 murder and indecent treatment of Daniel.
Following Cowan’s sentencing, Daniel’s mother Denise called for a child sex offenders’ register.
In WA, more than 100,000 hits have been logged on the sex offender register website since its launch in 2012.
West Australian Police Minister Liza Harvey said there had been no vigilante action.
The site only gives out limited information on local sex offenders when members of the public supply driver’s licence details.
But a criminology lecturer at West Australia’s Murdoch University, Jaimie Zander, said publicly available registers did little to reduce repeat offending and may actually increase the chance of repeat offending.
“Actually most of the literature looks at the collateral damage, such as offenders losing their jobs, being denied a place to live, loss of family and friends,” she told AAP.
“All of these things contribute toward an increase in stress levels, something that appears to be related to offending behaviour for certain groups of offenders.”
Broadcaster Derryn Hinch is campaigning for a public name and shame list and will, in coming months, finalise a draft with the former head of the National Crime Authority, Peter Faris, QC.
Hetty Johnston, the founder of child protection group Bravehearts, says the continued detention of dangerous sex offenders is better than a register, which she says could lead to innocent people being targeted.
“Most sex offenders aren’t known to police, so most of them wouldn’t be on the register anyway,” she said.
Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O’Gorman said naming and shaming would lead to vigilantism.
“Look at Denis Ferguson, he was hounded from town to town,” he told AAP.
The Victorian government says it has no plans to publicly release sex offender details because it also fears it may provoke vigilante attacks.