| 15.01,12. 01:40 PM |
Spotlight turned on sex fiends
January 15, 2012
VICTORIA Police will publish detailed statistics from the sex offenders' register for the first time after it emerged the state's worst sex creeps had breached their court-ordered conditions more than 1000 times.
The policy shift comes as police launch an unprecedented surveillance crackdown on the near-4000 offenders listed on the register.
It can now be revealed the 3977 offenders have breached their orders 1139 times since the register was established in 2004, including more than 500 breaches last year.
They were caught trying to change their names to hide their criminal past, secretly applying for jobs to work with children, and failing to tell police details such as what usernames they had registered on social media sites such as Facebook.
The breaches, and other data released by Victoria Police after an eight-month campaign by the Sunday Herald Sun, reveal that there are 3920 male sex offenders registered in Victoria and 57 women.
The oldest person on the register is 90 years old, the youngest 17.
Assistant Commissioner Jeff Pope said fighting sex offenders was a "significant priority".
From today, the number of offenders on the register will be published on the Victoria Police website, and detailed data, including breaches, will be included in police annual reports.
The number of investigators assigned to tracking the offenders' movements will be doubled to 21 and a dedicated Department of Human Services senior child case worker will be appointed to the unit to ensure authorities are alerted earlier when sex crimes are suspected in state care.
Mr Pope described sex offenders as one of Victoria's "really difficult and wicked social problems".
There were 504 perverts added to the state register last year alone.
Mr Pope, who heads the intelligence and covert support division, said the list was growing by about 20 per cent a year. He expected it to grow even further, with sexual predators to be the focus of an unprecedented crackdown by Victoria Police.
Police will this year commit more investigators, provide tighter surveillance and better frontline training to catch sex offenders and bring them to justice.
"Three thousand nine hundred and seventy-seven registered sex offenders is a large number and I'm sure everyone in the community would like it to be a lot less," Mr Pope said.
More than 90 per cent of those on the list had committed offences against children.
People in positions of trust such as teachers, sports coaches and music tutors are among the sex offenders under constant police watch and required to notify authorities of any changes to their name, home address, email, social media and phone accounts, vehicle registration and passport.
Mr Pope attributed the record number to more cases being reported, investigated and taken to court rather than an increase in sex criminals bucking the system.
He said the vast majority of rape and other sex crimes committed by those on the register occurred inside the home by family or friends of the victims.
"Sexual predators walking the streets looking for children to attack are very rare," he said. "Most of these are fathers, stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers offending against children in their family or extended family.
"Unfortunately, our children are at greater risk at home."
Mr Pope said Chief Commissioner Ken Lay had made tackling sex crimes a "significant priority" in the wake of a damning Ombudsman report last year that found police left more than 700 vulnerable children at risk from sex offenders by failing to pass information on to the Department of Human Services.
He said police had no plans to move towards a system similar to Western Australia, which publicly identified registered sex offenders, but were keeping an eye on the new laws.
Police were also watching the UK system, where parents can check whether their child's sports coach or teacher is a registered sex offender.
"It's one of those things that no one ever wants in their backyard, but we've got 3977 of them that we have to manage," Mr Pope said.