Sexual offending has a significant impact on victims and can cause considerable angst within the community. The effective management of sex offenders in the community is of paramount importance.
This paper reviews the latest empirical evidence from Australia and overseas regarding the effectiveness of public and non-public sex offender registries. Results show that while public sex offender registries may have a small general deterrent effect on first time offenders, they do not reduce recidivism. Further, despite having strong public support, they appear to have little effect on levels of fear in the community.
While the evidence is limited to a small number of US studies, non-public sex offender registries do appear to reduce reoffending by assisting law enforcement. The review concludes by highlighting important considerations to help inform future decisions about the feasibility of a public register in Australia.