Officials advise Goodale to rethink idea of public sex offender database

One concern is possibility of vigilante attacks

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.

It would also help federal departments carry out their mandates — for instance, providing Passport Canada with information that might result in revocation of a travel document, the notes say. In addition, the database could help foreign officials keep an eye on offenders who travel to their countries.

Still, the Public Safety notes point out that measures already exist to notify the public regarding high-risk offenders.

The federal prison service is required to provide information to local police when it believes an offender about to be released poses a threat. This information is used by police to decide whether public notification is necessary.

Officials noted other concerns, including:

— Possible regional differences in the information available in the database due to varying practices in provinces and territories;

— Lack of new funding for the RCMP to create and operate the database;

— Fears that many ex-offenders “go underground” to avoid the scrutiny and exposure of family members that comes from publication of their offences, address and other personal information. “This further inhibits effective law enforcement as police do not know the whereabouts of these offenders and are no longer able to monitor them to prevent possible reoffending”;

— Use of information in public sex offender registries in the United States to carry out vigilante actions;

— Lack of evidence that such databases have a significant impact on reducing the rate of sex offences, compared with treatment and reintegration programs that have led to reductions in recidivism, often at a lower cost.

Just Posted

Canadians told to brace for a ‘classic’ Canadian winter with lots of snow

TORONTO — One of Canada’s high profile weather forecasters is warning Canadians… Continue reading

Nebraska set to vote today on fate of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline

CALGARY — Five commissioners in Nebraska are set to vote today on… Continue reading

Hippie cult leader Charles Manson dead at 83

LOS ANGELES — Charles Manson, the hippie cult leader who became the… Continue reading

Tie new affordable housing money to outcomes, former watchdog tells Liberals

OTTAWA — Parliament’s first budget watchdog is warning the federal government to… Continue reading

WATCH: Christmas Wish Breakfast toy donations almost double

All toys donated Sunday will be given to the Red Deer Christmas Bureau and Red Deer Salvation Army

VIDEO: Replay Red Deer: Nov. 19

Watch news highlights from the week of Nov. 13

CP Holiday train to stop in Ponoka for another year

The popular train will feature entertainment from Colin James and Emma-Lee

Kittens rescued after allegedly being tossed from vehicle

Couple finds abandoned kittens new home through Facebook

VIDEO: ‘Party bus’ goes up in flames in Vancouver

Fire crews responded to the late night blaze

Chicken crosses B.C. road, stops traffic

Rooster makes early morning commuters wait in Maple Ridge

Red Deerian honours her brother who died in a motorcycle collision

Houaida Haddad is encouraging Red Deer residents to donate blood

Red Deer County firefighters to be recognized for Waterton help

RCMP brass will give formal recognition Monday

Ron James tries to lighten humanity’s load through humour

The comedian returns to Red Deer for shows Dec. 1 and 2

100+ Women Red Deer donate to Christmas Bureau

About $14,000 will help with Christmas hampers and toys

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month