The Queensland Government has announced the proposed introduction of new laws that empower police to enter the homes of reportable sex offenders to search digital devices.
Police Minister Mark Ryan yesterday revealed the Government’s plan for new legislation which he says will provide police with “even tougher measures to hunt down child sex offenders”.
Mr Ryan said the proposed laws would support police efforts to stop reportable offenders using the latest online technology to offend against children.
“Police will have expanded powers to enter the residence of a reportable offender to undertake a digital device inspection,” Mr Ryan said.
“Disturbingly, police advise there has been an increasing trend in child sex offenders using new web technology and the anonymity of online offending to harm children.
“Currently advanced anonymising software exists, such as virtual private networks and hidden phone applications, allowing these predators to remain invisible online, hiding evidence of their child sex offending.”
The Child Protection (Offenders Reporting and Offender Prohibition Order) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 is expected to be introduced to Queensland Parliament this week.
In an Australian first, the proposed new measures seek to target technology-based offending and seriously disrupt the practices by:
- expanding police powers to enter the residence of a reportable offender to undertake a digital device inspection
- requiring reportable offenders to disclose their use of anonymising software, vault and black hole applications and their media access control (MAC) address
- introducing a new offence with penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment for failing to comply with a requirement to produce a digital device for a device inspection
- requiring reportable offenders who have been convicted of failing to comply with their reporting obligations to report those details to police within seven days.
Mr Ryan said the Queensland Police Service (QPS) was already doing “an outstanding job” in battling this type of offending, but as technology continued to change it was imperative investigators had the tools necessary to keep the pressure on child sex offenders.
“The QPS has been doing an outstanding job in its seemingly never-ending quest against this despicable behaviour,” he said. “It is incredibly complex, and stressful, for the officers and any way in which the Government can help legislatively we absolutely do that.
“I have the utmost admiration for the police who identified the need for these changes to further protect children in our community.”
QPS Crime and Intelligence Command Detective Acting Chief Superintendent Denzil Clark said laws were an additional mechanism to monitor, disrupt and prevent repeat offending by reportable offenders.
“The safety of all Queenslanders remains paramount to the QPS and our approach to the monitoring of reportable offenders within Queensland continues to be a priority,” he said.