4 May 2013

Laws 'already in place' on recidivist offenders

6:30 pm on 4 May 2013

A human-rights lawyer says claims by the Sensible Sentencing Trust that there are no laws protecting the public from recidivist sex offenders are untrue.

Sex offender Ronald Van Der Plaat has been recalled to prison for breaching his parole conditions.

Trust spokesperson Ruth Money says the Public Safety Bill, which was introduced in September, needs to be moved to the top of the legislative list. The bill proposes secure residences inside prison precincts,

"These recidivist people are incredibly sick and incredibly dangerous for the public and they should be housed away from the public," Ms Money says.

"There is no legislation at the the moment where (judges) can keep us safe from these people."

However lawyer Michael Bott says there are already laws in place to protect the public and the bill is unnecessary.

Mr Bott says the only way to test the success of rehabilitation is to monitor closely former inmates who are on parole, and, if they breach conditions, they can be recalled to prison.

"Otherwise what you've got is a system where people are unnecessarily and arbitrarily detained on the basis that they may offend, when statistically there is actually a low level of risk that they will do so anyway."

Van Der Plaat was imprisoned in 2000 for unlawful sexual connection and the rape of his daughter, who he'd treated as a sex slave over a 13-year period in what the trial judge called depraved and bizarre offending.

He was released in 2010 because the Parole Board had no power to keep him in prison, as he was sentenced under old legislation.

On Friday, Van Der Plaat had 22 months added to his sentence for breaching his release conditions and taking nude photos of a four-year-old girl.