Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Officials Advise Goodale to Rethink Idea of Public Sex Offender Database

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Officials Advise Goodale to Rethink Idea of Public Sex Offender Database

Article excerpt

Rethink public sex offender database: memos

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OTTAWA - Federal officials have advised Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to put the brakes on setting up a publicly accessible database of high-risk child sex offenders.

The previous Conservative government ushered in legislation that opened the door to allowing the RCMP to create such a database as part of measures to crack down on child predators.

An internal memo to Goodale from Public Safety officials says "a number of concerns have been raised" -- from resource pressures to fears of vigilante-style attacks -- that would support dropping the database idea.

The Canadian Press used the Access to Information Act to recently obtain the March 2016 memo and other internal notes on the legislative measures.

The proposed database would provide the public with a national inventory of high-risk child sex offenders in their communities and allow them to take appropriate precautions, the notes say.

They indicate that officials recommended proceeding with elements of the legislation that impose new reporting requirements on registered sex offenders and allow for better information sharing between federal agencies.

But officials suggested the department and RCMP would undertake a review and consult interested parties "for a fully informed assessment of the proposed new database and develop options for your consideration in moving forward."

A Public Safety official said this week that "work on this initiative is ongoing."

Conservative justice critic Rob Nicholson said the Liberal government should implement the database.

"If a dangerous sex offender has been released or has moved into your neighbourhood, I think people have a right to know," Nicholson said.

"The government should proceed with this. And if they've got issues with it, I think they should let the public know."

The internal Public Safety notes say the database would consolidate information on high-risk offenders currently issued by police forces across the country and provide an additional tool for law enforcement to monitor offenders. …

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