Convicted paedophiles could have their computers searched and be forced to hand over passwords if police suspect an offence has occurred, under new laws passed by the Queensland Parliament.
The laws, designed to stop some forms of child abuse before it occurs, gives police increased powers and has the backing of Bruce and Denise Morcombe, whose 13-year-old son Daniel was abducted and murdered in 2003.
The changes also allow courts to determine a person is a reportable offender even if they pleaded guilty to a lesser offence, and stops perpetrators cross-examining victims in civil court cases.
Police Minister Mark Ryan said the changes would help protect the most vulnerable members of the community.
“Police will also be given the power, in certain circumstances, to inspect any device in the possession of a reportable offender,” he said.
“Our children deserve to be protected from these predators.
“This Government will not stand by and allow reportable offenders to manipulate the system in order to offend again or re-victimise more children.”
Further amendments have been made to reporting conditions, forcing reportable offenders to provide details and photographs of new tattoos, car purchases or changes to their appearance.
The State Government’s new laws were supported by the Opposition and the crossbenchers.
Police, advocacy groups back new laws
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said any initiatives that assisted officers on the front line would be welcomed.
“Our priority is keeping Queenslanders of all ages safe, but it is particularly important that we focus on the most vulnerable in our community, our children,” Mr Stewart said.
Denise and Bruce Morcombe, whose son Daniel was killed by now-jailed murderer Brett Peter Cowan, said the measures were “tough on predators”.
“Daniel was murdered by a twice-convicted paedophile,” Mr and Mrs Morcombe said in a statement.
“It allows suspected child exploitation activity to be investigated swiftly, potentially reducing harm to our youngsters.
“The sharing of information between agencies that protect children will allow them to do the job they are commissioned to do unimpeded.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for child safety advocacy group Bravehearts also backed the new laws.
“Many of the recommendations will assist in the monitoring and management of offenders who, due to their criminal history, pose a level of ongoing risk,” the spokesperson said.