Vancouver police are looking forward to soon being able to use an improved national sex registry to prevent crimes.

The proposed changes, announced yesterday in Vancouver by International Trade Minister Stockwell Day, include mandatory registration and DNA samples for all convicted sex offenders.

Sgt. Mike Pollard of Vancouver’s sex-crime unit said the problem with the existing sex-offender registry is that it is rarely used by investigators.

“The proposed changes I’ve seen … will allow us to use it as a tool in a proactive way,” said Pollard, following the announcement yesterday.

“For example … we have a sex offence in a community or an area, previously we couldn’t go and say, ‘Who are our known, identified, convicted sex offenders in that community? Who do we know who has done this before?’”

The proposed changes, said Vancouver Chief Const. Jim Chu, are modelled on the Ontario sex-offender registry that he said has been used effectively by policing agencies.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association’s executive director, David Eby, said DNA is an important tool in criminal investigations, but there must be safeguards on its collection and access.

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