Matt Doocey: Members Bill requiring schools to be notified of sex offenders placed locally

Opinion 26/07/2019

Matt Doocey, National Party MP for Waimakariri.

Recently my Members Bill, that would require the Department of Corrections to notify schools of sex offenders placed in their local communities, was entered into the Ballot.

After two sex offenders were housed in my electorate of Waimakariri, I was appalled to learn that there is no requirement for the Department of Corrections to inform local schools.

My Members Bill seeks to address this by requiring the Department of Corrections to inform principals of local schools when a sex offender is placed in their local community.

My Members Bill will ensure all schools within five kilometres, or the nearest school if there are none within the five kilometre area, will be notified of the placement of a sex offender.

The Bill will also require the Department of Corrections to notify local schools 48 hours before the release of a sex offender into a community, or within 72 hours of housing the sex offender in a new residential address.

I accept that some sex offenders will need to be managed in the community, but as a parent it’s outrageous that local schools are not informed of a sex offender’s placement in their community.

Telling schools of a sex offender being placed in their local community gives them the ability to make informed decisions about what is best for their students. A mandatory requirement will start a dialogue and partnership between the Department of Corrections and schools to discuss the potential risk of the placement and any management plans that would need to be put in place.  

My electorate of Waimakariri is not the only area to raise concerns with the current practice of placing sex offenders. Earlier this year there was community unrest in Manurewa as it was revealed a sex offender, who had been convicted more than 80 times, was placed in direct proximity to a pre-school without them being notified.

By ensuring schools are aware of these situations, it gives them the ability to make informed decisions about what’s best for their students. I believe parents expect this.

I’ve had lots of support for my Bill so far, including from the education sector with president of the Principals Association Whetu Cormick coming out in support. Most agree that it’s a common sense amendment that allows important information to be shared with schools and gives parents peace of mind.

Alongside my Bill I’ve also launched a petition calling on the Department of Corrections to inform schools when sex offenders are placed in their communities. I encourage you to sign the petition here.

Matt Doocey is the National Party MP for Waimakariri.