City police are applauding the Conservative government’s plan to strengthen the national sex offender registry.

Deepak Obrhai, Conservative member of parliament for Calgary East, unveiled proposed changes yesterday that would require all sex offenders to be automatically added to the registry and provide a DNA sample for the national database.

“We are sending a strong message that safety and security is paramount in our communities,” Obrhai said. “We are strengthening the registry … so that it becomes a more effective tool for police to prevent sex crimes against our most vulnerable groups.”

Obrhai said current law requires a Crown attorney to submit an application in order to add a convicted offender to the registry, and allows the presiding judge to decline.

Calgary deputy chief Murray Stooke said the changes will help manage offenders, but will also be preventative, as offenders will be monitored.

But Linda McKay-Panos, of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre warns that the change may prompt a need for a stricter definition of a “sex offender” in order to ensure the registry is accurate.

The rise in people registered could cause administrative problems, and “may therefore provide a false sense of security that the public will be more protected than we currently are,” she said.

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