OTTAWA – New federal legislation to expand the national sex offender registry would make it mandatory to register everyone convicted of a sex crime.
It would also allow police and corrections officials to make greater use of the information in the registry.
The changes will ensure that convicted sex offenders automatically go into the registry and be required to submit a DNA sample, Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said Monday.
Currently, a judge has to approve registration of a convicted offender after a formal application by the Crown.
“That does not happen 42 per cent of the time,” Van Loan said. “Almost half the sex offenders escape the registry. That is not acceptable.”
The legislation will also require that people convicted of sex crimes outside the country be included in the registry.
“No longer will Canada be a safe haven from which travelling sex offenders can operate safely.”
Van Loan said police will also be able to make use of the registry to keep tabs on offenders and notify other jurisdictions – inside and outside Canada – when offenders move around.
“If police see an individual behaving suspiciously – near a school ground for example – they’ll be able to request information from the database. They will be able to learn if the person involved is a registered sex offender.”
Police and prison officials will be able to notify the registry if a sex offender is released, or goes back behind bars.
Van Loan said police and victims groups have repeatedly asked for these changes.
This legislation will make the registry and the DNA database “more effective and efficient tools in our fight against sexual crime.”