Concerns raised about sex offender’s release
“No legal mechanism” exists to keep convicted sex offender Jonathan Cumberbatch in jail past his scheduled release date of February 21, according to Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security.
Mr Caines spoke yesterday after Cumberbatch's release was publicised on Wednesday along with his photograph, in the wake of deliberations by Kathy Simmons, the Attorney-General.
Senator Simmons issued the public warning after deeming Cumberbatch, sentenced in 2010 to 12 years' imprisonment for crimes against children, to be “of the highest risk to the community”.
In a statement, Mr Caines said: “Understandably, the impending release of Jonathan Cumberbatch is concerning to the community.
“It is important to note that, regrettably, there is no legal mechanism currently available to further detain him in prison. The notification issued by the Attorney-General is an important feature of cases like this and the heightened public awareness of his release is exactly what the notice is for.
“The safety of young people in particular is paramount in our considerations and through the work of the Ministry of Legal Affairs we expect to bring amendments to relevant laws that will increase the powers of the criminal justice system in these terrible cases.”
The release is understood to be in keeping with Corrections standards, in which offenders who have complied with prison life are required to be released from jail on their earliest release date.
Parole does not feature in such releases.
Mr Caines's remarks came in the wake of a joint statement yesterday by family charities, described as “relieved and grateful” that the Attorney-General “accepted the need to inform the public when a dangerous, sexual predator is released into the community”.
However, the group, which included the Coalition for the Protection of Children, the sexual abuse charity Saving Children and Revealing Secrets, Women's Resource Centre and the Centre Against Abuse, called for Cumberbatch to serve his full sentence.
While the group said Cumberbatch should remain incarcerated for failing to comply with treatment programmes during his prison time, it is understood that Cumberbatch completed the sexual offenders programme, in May 2012.
The group's statement closed with an appeal to the families of child sex offenders, urging them “not to be embarrassed or ashamed”.
The statement added: “You are not responsible for the actions of your beloved family members. We can love from afar, we can choose to support them at the same time holding them accountable by reminding them when they minimise or deny their actions and we can remove them from their temptations because children cannot protect themselves and they rely on us as adults to do that.
“We as a community cannot hold the family of child sex offenders responsible for the choices of the sex offender.”
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