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Sex Offender Register, Community Notification and Some Reflections on Privacy (From Managing High-Risk Sex Offenders in the Community: Risk Management, Treatment and Social Responsibility, P 61-78, 2010, Karen Harrison, ed. - See NCJ-230796)

NCJ Number
Terry Thomas
Date Published
18 pages
After examining the features of the United Kingdom's sex offender register and its implementation over the last 12 years, this chapter examines the concept of making the register public in a way comparable to United States' policies of community notification or Megan's Law and what this would mean to the understanding of privacy in the United Kingdom (UK).
The UK's sex offender registry was introduced in 1997. It requires sex offenders to keep the police notified of their current whereabouts and circumstances, with notification required every time this information changes. The purpose of the register is to keep police records on the residence of sex offenders up to date and accurate. The register was not intended to be a punishment, but rather a mechanism for increasing police efforts in public protection from sex offenders. Sanctions are applied to sex offenders who fail to comply with notification requirements, which last for a given period based on the severity of the original offense and the punishment imposed. Over the last 12 years, the registry requirement have gradually been strengthened and tightened. Noncompliance has been made an arrestable offense, and sanctions for noncompliance have been increased (6 months' custody up to 5 years maximum). One of the persistent questions for policymakers is whether or not the public should have access to the sex offender register. In the United States, such community notification policies exist in all 50 States. The UK has thus far resisted making the sex offender register available to the public on a blanket basis, reserving such public notification only for high-risk offenders. The chapter notes that an expensive bureaucracy has evolved with little or no evidence to demonstrate its worth, due almost entirely to politicians' response to perceived public sentiment. 3 tables, 6 notes, and 36 references