Australian sex offenders have been banned from travelling after tough new laws were introduced.
Australian sex offenders have been banned from travelling after tough new laws were introduced.

Aussie paedophiles stripped of passports

ALMOST 500 registered sex offenders have been banned from having an Australian passport since tough new laws to stop them from travelling abroad were brought in late last year.

The bans come as new figures reveal that reports to the Australian Federal Police of online sexual predators have quadrupled in the past five years - jumping from 3068 in the 2013 calendar year to more than 13,000 so far this year.

According to figures obtained from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, state and territory police have so far requested that 466 people not be allowed to have a passport.

Of these, 29 had current passports which were cancelled and authorities asked that a further 437 people be barred from a passport.

The majority of the 437 had not actually applied for passports but it is understood police agencies had requested the ban.

Hundreds of Australian sex offenders have been banned from having passports.
Hundreds of Australian sex offenders have been banned from having passports.

There are currently up to 20,000 registered sex offenders, who until the new laws took effect in December last year, were free to travel overseas, placing vulnerable children at risk of their behaviour.

The laws, where the Foreign Minister denies a passport to a registered sex offender if requested to do so by a law enforcement agency, have been hailed as world leading, curtailing the ability of sexual predators to travel and prey on children.

Under the previous system, those on the sex offenders' register must notify police if they intended to travel overseas. In many cases the police in their destination country were alerted to their travel and denied them entry. Indonesia had a policy of turning around every Australian sex offender they were alerted about.

"It is now a crime for offenders to leave Australia without permission from law enforcement agencies. It doesn't matter whether they have a passport or not. If they try to leave, they are stopped at the border and liable to up to five years in prison," a DFAT spokesperson said.

"As an additional precaution, offenders' passports are cancelled if State and Territory authorities request this. So far, there have been requests in relation to 466 offenders. Of these offenders, 29 had current passports and 437 did not. All are now barred from receiving a passport," the spokesperson said.

At the time the ground breaking new laws were passed there were fears it might drive sex offenders now unable to travel to the dark web and to online child sexual exploitation.

Australian Federal Police acting manager of victim based crime, Supt Joanne Cameron, says the figures in relation to online sexual predators continue to increase.

She says there are various reasons for the increase such as social media platforms, gaming platforms with chat functions, media sharing sites and live streaming apps which are all used by children.

Predators also use anonymising software and the dark net to hide and disguise their illegal activities, Supt Cameron said.

But it was too early to say if cancelling passports has had an impact on online exploitation.

"The number of referrals and reports of online sexual predators received by the AFP continues to increase. We have no evidence to suggest that this increase is as a result of registered sex offenders not being able to travel," Supt Cameron said.