GPS to monitor sex offenders


QUEENSLAND'S tough regime of monitoring and supervising sex offenders living in the community is to be further enhanced with the introduction of GPS technology to monitor them.

Premier Anna Bligh and Corrective Services Minister Neil Roberts today announced the 2011-12 State Budget would include $2.2 million to introduce the technology to monitor the movement of offenders on continuing supervision orders under the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003.

The total cost to implement the system will be $13.7 million over four years.

"Already Queensland has some of the most stringent monitoring in place but the introduction of this new technology is the next logical step in providing both the best protection for victims and the strictest supervision for offenders," Ms Bligh said.

"We have to do everything in our power - and keep up with all emerging technologies - to offer the upmost protection to victims, particularly those victims of child sex offenders.

"In the past before a Labor Government came to power in Queensland, sex offenders walked free at the end of their sentence with no supervision and no monitoring.

"We were the first government in Australia to introduce legislation allowing the courts to keep dangerous sex offenders in jail in beyond their full-time release date or to have them subject to strict supervision if released.

"There are currently 114 offenders subject to the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act, with 35 subject to continuing detention and 79 being managed in the community.

"Of the 79 offenders living in the community, 70 are currently subject to electronic monitoring and these offenders will be transitioned to GPS-based monitoring technology."

The Premier said she expected the first offender to be fitted with the GPS monitoring device by the end of the year.

"Queensland Corrective Services will call for tenders from the market seeking the very best and most up-to-date technology.

"It will also train its staff in the use of the technology before the first monitoring device is fitted to an offender."

Corrective Services Minister Neil Roberts said GPS technology, while an enhancement on the existing radio-based monitoring system, would not replace the vigilance of staff in the field who monitor the whereabouts of offenders and their movements.

"This type of monitoring forms the backbone of Queensland's sex offender supervision regime," Mr Roberts said.

"We give these offenders no quarter. If they do not comply with the terms of their supervision order, swift action is taken by corrective services personnel, including returning to jail.

"GPS monitoring technology will certainly assist staff in the field, and I am pleased that it can be accommodated in this year's State Budget."

Mr Roberts said Queensland was only the second state in Australia to adopt GPS technology in its monitoring of sex offenders, after New South Wales.

"Since we introduced the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act, the government has continued to explore ways to not only enhance its laws but strengthen its monitoring and supervision regime.

"The roll-out of GPS technology to monitor offenders is yet another example of our determination to protect the community."