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Labour's privacy warning over sex register

Monday 12 Nov 2012 3:46p.m.

Labour's privacy warning over sex register

The plan for a register of sex offenders, following several high-profile privacy breaches by government agencies, has the Labour Party worried.

The Government first signalled it was looking at such a register back in April, after a convicted child sex offender was found to have worked in several schools.

Over the weekend, Corrections Minister Anne Tolley, who recently visited Europe and discussed similar registers there, told TV3's The Nation she will take a proposal to cabinet next year, and is hopeful it will be in place by 2014.

Mrs Tolley said she found Britain's system of managing violent and sexual offenders "very strong".

"What made me have a look at it in New Zealand was the fact that ... at the end of their sentence, [offenders] disappear off into our communities and we really lose track of them."

The proposed register would be accessible only to government departments.

However, Labour's corrections spokesman Charles Chauvel says repeated privacy breaches at government agencies, including ACC, Inland Revenue and Work and Income, highlight the risks.

"If you have a look at this government's record of not being able to protect personal information ... I think you start to see the problems with this proposal," he said.

Mr Chauvel says the Government needs to show that it can manage data properly, and what impact the register might have on offenders' rehabilitation, before it's allowed to proceed.

"Otherwise, who knows where this information will end up? And if it's wrong in any respect then the consequences for individuals will be catastrophic."

Some offenders may still be able to get around the register, such as Te Rito Henry Miki, 40, who earlier this year admitted using a false CV and birth certificate to get work in six schools, despite a conviction for indecently assaulting a 14-year-old.

He was arrested for breaching an extended supervision order after a person recognised him driving a van-load of children and admitted to using a friend's identity to gain work.

NZN

 
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