Sex offenders plan 'needs to be made compulsory'
A proposed voluntary registration system for sex offenders to be launched next month would be pointless unless it was made mandatory, child care institutes and schools have told the government.
Against Child Abuse director Jessica Ho Oi-chu said the system should be made compulsory and extended to volunteers and private tutors. 'The system will be [practically] non-existent if it's voluntary,' said Ho who yesterday released a survey of 126 schools and organisations conducted last month. 'We are not trying to stop them from finding a job, but we hope to lower the chance of them repeating the offence,' she said.
Under a proposal by the Law Reform Commission, employers from organisations or companies whose business involves children or mentally-challenged people could use a service to check if a job applicant had been convicted of a sexual offence - provided that they received the applicant's consent. Applicants could refuse the employer's request.
The idea is to give greater protection to minors and people suffering from mental disabilities. The employer has to pay about HK$160 for each check, Against Child Abuse says.
The survey found 86 per cent of respondents said they would use the service when it became available.
Ho said more organisations and schools would be willing to use the system if the fee could be dropped or cut, and also said most potential users believed the system should not be voluntary. Some 71 per cent said the system should be extended to cover volunteer workers, and 75 per cent said it should be made available to individual employers - such as parents hiring private tutors.
Against Child Abuse urged the government to introduce a compulsory law to require such background checks for all employers in the child care and education sector as well as for those caring for the mentally-challenged. A Security Bureau spokesman said the Law Reform Commission would consider if more comprehensive legislation was needed after implementing the voluntary system by the end of the year.
Number of teachers and classroom assistants convicted of sex offences between January 2001 and January 2010, the Post found last year