It's an idea women's and children's rights groups have championed for years - giving courts the power to make sex offenders undergo rehabilitation. Now the Law Reform Commission is considering throwing its weight behind the idea. Its subcommittee reviewing punishments for sexual offences will also consider the law that limits court-ordered supervision of discharged sex offenders to those who are jailed for at least two years. Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a member of the subcommittee and a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, said mandatory rehabilitation would definitely be an important area to look into. 'The court should not only take the role of punishing sex offenders. It needs to put in place preventive measures to avoid a repeat of the offence,' he said. Professor Cheung said it was important to look at the types of sex crime reoffenders were most likely to commit before drafting a law on mandatory rehabilitation. At present, a judge can only recommend a sex offender undergo voluntary rehabilitation while in prison. Programmes run by the Correctional Services Department last up to six months, depending on how great a risk an offender poses. About half the 900 child-sex offenders jailed since 1998 have volunteered for these programmes, according to the department. Professor Cheung said some judges had said they saw a need for sex offenders jailed for less than two years to remain under supervision after their release. But the law does not allow them to order supervision for these offenders. Supervision orders provide for counselling sessions and unannounced visits by Correctional Services Department officers. Andrew Powner, another subcommittee member and a solicitor, said the department's rehabilitation programmes had a high success rate. He said the subcommittee would consider the views of the correctional services and social welfare departments and concerned bodies, and look at methods adopted in overseas jurisdictions, including England and Scotland. The subcommittee's chairman, Peter Duncan, said the treatment of sex offenders would form a big part of the review. Against Child Abuse director Priscilla Lui Tsang Sun-kai said the subcommittee's consideration of mandatory counselling was welcome. 'The government has to face the fact that sex-crime reoffenders are always out there, harming our children and the other vulnerable people,' she said. But a spokeswoman for the Correctional Services Department said its psychologists had always been against mandatory counselling. 'It would not be of much use to force an offender to attend the programme if he does not have the heart for it,' she said.