When a sex offender is suspected of committing a sex offence, it’s vital that she is not released from custody until her case is adjudicated.
It’s not always easy to determine who the sex offender actually is, but there is no legal or legal duty to release the person who is suspected.
And the new law in British Columbia makes it a criminal offence for the accused to remain in custody while a sex-offender registry is being developed.
“I’m worried that if this gets out there, that people will just put on a new name, and maybe they’ll just get away with it,” said Susan Blanchard, executive director of the National Association of Sex Offenders.
The new law comes into effect July 1, 2020, and is designed to protect vulnerable victims.
The law requires people who are in custody to be provided with a list of names and addresses of anyone the accused believes is a sex offense.
It also makes it illegal to refuse to provide a name to the accused.
The information must be available to the police within 60 days of the offence being reported.
The accused can also request an electronic copy of the information.
“We know from the previous government that people are afraid to report crimes to the RCMP,” said Blanchards husband, Rob BlanchARD.
“The last thing we need to do is give a blanket assurance that they’re going to get rid of these names.
That’s what we want to do.”
Blancharding said the new laws are a necessary step to keep the public informed.
“It’s not going to solve the problem of having a sex offenders registry in place, but it will help us know who’s a sex predator, who’s not,” he said.
“You want to keep people safe and protect the public.
This is going to keep them safe.”
The proposed legislation does not affect the current system of registration of sex offenders by the RCMP.
BlanchARDS wife said that in some cases, the accused might be unable to identify the accused in a registry without the names being disclosed.
“Sometimes they don’t know if it’s the accused or not,” she said.
In other cases, information about sex offenders might be withheld because of the sensitivity of the subject.
“In some cases the accused may have a lot of other reasons to keep their identity hidden from the public, which may not be the best thing for the public,” Blanchsaid.
“If you are in a situation where you don’t want to be in the public eye, it can be a little difficult to put yourself in the position of having to disclose your name.”
The new legislation comes after a string of high-profile sex-related incidents in British Columbians’ lives.
In March, a British Columbia man was arrested and charged with sexual assault and sexual exploitation.
Two years earlier, a woman in Vancouver was arrested for sexually assaulting her three children.
In April, a man in Victoria was charged with assault causing bodily harm.
The BC Criminal Code states that sexual activity can take place between a person and an adult, regardless of consent.
But the current registry is only meant to be used by law enforcement officials, and has no enforcement powers.
“This bill is just another tool in the toolbox of the government to get the public’s attention and get these sex offenders off the streets,” said David Bader, a former BC chief justice and a board member of the BC Civil Liberties Association.
“People don’t feel like they’re safe to go to the doctor or get to the bank.”
In April 2018, a Canadian woman was arrested after she was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy.
In January 2019, a 28-year old woman was charged after she allegedly raped a 22-yearold man.
The former BC Chief Justice says the new legislation is not the end of the story.
“There are still thousands of sex crimes that are being committed every year and the current sex offender system is inadequate and ineffective,” he told The Globe and Mail.
“What I would like to see is legislation that’s just as effective as the existing registry but better.”
Bader said that if the government’s intent is to provide the public with the information needed to prevent further crime, it should consider the new bill’s implications.
“My advice is that if it does come into effect and we don’t have the information we need in the first place, then we have to be ready to implement legislation that provides information that is helpful,” he added.
The bill is the first of its kind in Canada and will likely face an uphill battle in the legislature.
“At the end, I think this is a very good bill,” said NDP justice critic Peter Tabuns.
“And it’s not a new bill.
This was a government bill.”
The bill was introduced to the legislature in September, but the government has not yet brought it up for a vote.