25 Sep 2016

Cost of sex offender's supervision kept secret

8:56 am on 25 September 2016

The Corrections Department is refusing to say how much it has spent supervising a repeat child sex offender 24 hours a day, for the past 12 years.

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The offender was shifted to the grounds of Christchurch Prison after being forced to move from Lower Hutt. Photo: Google Maps

In an Official Information Act request, RNZ asked for the costs of monitoring the man, who was freed from prison in 2004.

But Corrections said it was statutorily obligated to protect all private information relating to offenders, and that its contracts with the supervisors were commercially sensitive.

A public outcry last month forced the man to move out of the Lower Hutt suburb of Maungaraki.

He had lived for a brief time with at least one fulltime supervisor in a $740,000, 295-square-metre house, after shifting there when Dunedin's Patients and Communities Trust (PACT) won its first Corrections contract to supervise a sex offender.

The man was convicted in 1987, 1993 and 1999 of indecently assaulting girls under 12, including abducting a child with intent to have sex, and was considered at high risk of reoffending.

Experts judged he was attracted to young girls and had limited empathy.

After his forced shift, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said she would like to have more serious offenders stay within prison grounds after their sentence ended, but that needed the support of the courts.

Amid the uproar, PACT pulled out of the contract and the offender was shifted to the grounds of Christchurch Prison, but will be moved back to Wellington at some stage.

05072016 Photo: Rebekah Parsons-King. Caucus run. Judith Collins.

Judith Collins would like more serious offenders to stay within prison grounds after their sentence finished. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Corrections said the man was shifted to Maungaraki due to the change in who was supervising him, but some Hutt Valley residents suggested PACT was out of its depth monitoring a recidivist criminal.

In its OIA response, Corrections told RNZ that it helped train PACT staff, and that the trust had passed official audits from the Ministry of Health and ACC for its other work.

It said PACT had a lot of experience supervising clients who were intellectually disabled, or had behaviour problems, or who had sexually offended.

However, when PACT announced in May that it had won its first Corrections contract, it did not mention having any experience supervising sex offenders.

Instead it referred to its extensive knowledge of working with prisoners who required addiction treatment when they were released.

PACT job vacancy advertisements say applicants need excellent interpersonal skills, computer skills, and a driver's licence, with pay at $17 to $18 an hour for its on-the-ground supervisors.

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