23 Aug 2016

'Mob mentality' over sex offender

10:18 am on 23 August 2016

A 'mob mentality' forced the Corrections Department to move a child sex offender from a Lower Hutt neighbourhood, says a prison reform advocate.

Department of Corrections logo

Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

The man is being shifted to a house on the grounds of Christchurch Prison until Corrections can find him somewhere else in the Wellington region to live.

Some 400 residents had turned out to two meetings expressing concern at the decision to allow the offender on extended supervision to live in a house in Maungaraki.

Prison reform advocate and director of the Just Speak group, Katie Bruce, said the climate of fear around child sex abusers did nothing to stop re-offending.

She said offenders who had served their time needed society's support to rehabilitate.

"They have the right to be a part of the community and live their life according to the restrictions placed upon them which in this case are extremely stringent.

"Someone who's proven themselves for 10 years - what more can they do?

Ms Bruce said the focus should be on prevention rather than a "mob mentality" which prevented sex offenders from seeking help if they think they might be an imminent risk to children.

"I want to live in a society that encourages people worried about their sexual urges to seek help before there is any harm."

Lower Hutt mayor Ray Wallace said he took exception to the accusation of mob mentality.

People at the public meetings held about the offender's presence in Maungaraki had been extremely well behaved, he said.

"There have been genuine concerns raised by parents, and we've also had a very good productive meeting with Corrections."

People were concerned that the house the man was living in was near children, close to a school, and overlooking streets and neighbours' gardens.

Mr Wallace suggested the man should live in a property on the grounds of Rimutaka Prison.

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