The state government of West Australia on Monday has launched the Community Protection Website, a portal which contains a list of names as well as photographs of the most dangerous and high-risk sexual offenders living within and nearby WA.
The portal, a first in resource-rich Australia, has likewise gotten the interest of Victoria and NSW as well. The two states' governments are already thinking of replicating the child-sex offender register online system in their own respective turfs.
But the legal counsels from the Criminal Lawyers Association of WA opined that the list is highly susceptible to misuse even by regular people and result to vigilantism and possibly cases of mistaken identity.
What's worse, the site did not provide instructions or advises on what to do when an individual gets to see face to face anyone among those included in the list.
"You get released a photograph and then you are able to hopefully find the right person, and then when you do, I'm not sure exactly what it is that the government expects you to do with the information," Linda Black, president of Criminal Lawyers Association of WA, told AAP.
The Community Protection Website included the names and faces of about 50 child sex offenders. It also included the suburbs where the offenders live, although no specific addresses were given.
"It is leading Australia in providing parents with what would have been confidential information," acting Detective Senior Sergeant Darryl Noye told ABC News, stressing the site and the list's publication will not pose harm to the offenders.
But Ms Black believed otherwise.
"The concern is that if these people are identified down the track, potentially at a time where they have rehabilitated, whether people will try and track them down in some kind of vigilante action and take their version of the law into their own hands," she said.
"My primary concern is, once people have this information, what is anticipated they will do other than try and run the bloke out of town?," Ms Black said. "The legislation boldly claims it will help us protect our children but I've read the legislation twice now and I still don't see how."
But Senior Sergeant Noye assured offenders also have rights.
"For the person who takes the matter into their own hands, it puts them at risk as well," he said, noting a jail term of up to 10 years could be slapped to anyone found guilty of harassing an offender identified on the Web site.
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