Victoria Strengthens Supervision Regime For Serious Sex Offenders

Monday 6 June 2016 @ 10.51 a.m. | Crime

Victoria’s Serious Sex Offenders (Detention and Supervision) Amendment (Community Safety) Act 2016 partially commenced on 1 June 2016.  The Act aims to strengthen the serious sex offender post-sentence scheme and to protect the community from serious sex offenders who may become violent.

The Act follows the review of the Serious Sex Offenders (Detention and Supervision) Act 2009 (Vic) (“the SSODSA”) led by the Hon David Harper, former judge of the Victorian Court of Appeal.  The review was commissioned following the stabbing of a Melbourne teenager by a convicted sex offender who was on bail and a 10-year serious sex offender supervision order at the time of the offence.

In a press release announcing the Act’s reforms, Premier Daniel Andrews said:

“Dangerous offenders who are an unacceptable risk to the community should not be in the community – and we’re toughening the laws to make sure that happens.”

Key Changes

The Act amends the SSODSA by inserting a new section 6A to prioritise community safety in all the decisions made by under the Act, including by the courts and the Adult Parole Board:

“6A Safety and protection of the community paramount in any decision under this Act

In making a decision under this Act, a person or body must give paramount consideration to the safety and protection of the community.”

The Act also inserts three new “core conditions” into every supervision order that provide that the offender must not:

“a. commit a violent offence in Victoria or elsewhere;

b. if the court requires an offender to reside at a residential facility, engage in conduct that poses a risk to the good order of the residential facility, or the safety and welfare of offenders or staff at the facility or visitors to the residential facility;

c. engage in conduct that threatens the safety of any person, including the offender.”

The Act also allows courts and the Adult Parole Board powers to impose conditions on supervision orders that relate specifically to the risk of an offender committing a violent crime, whereas previously they could only make orders relating to their risk of sexual reoffending.

The Act also reforms sentencing for breaching supervision orders, with a minimum term of imprisonment of 12 months applying for an intention or reckless breach of certain conditions.

Police powers have also been strengthened under the Act, with police officers now allowed to detain an serious sex offender who poses an imminent risk of breaching a supervision order for 72 hours, up from the previous 10 hours.  Police are also granted additional search and seizure powers akin to those of community corrections officers under the current regime, and will be able to search the offender’s person, residence, vehicle and belonging (this part of the Act has not yet commenced).

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Serious Sex Offenders (Detention and Supervision) Amendment (Community Safety) Act 2016, Bill, Explanatory Memorandum & Second Reading Speeches - available from TimeBase's LawOne Service

Vic cracks down on serious sex offenders (SBS News, 25 May 2016)

Media Release: Tough New Sex Offender Laws To Protect Victorians (Minister for Corrections and Premier, 22 March 2016)

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