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How Many Sex Offenders Have Custody of Children

State Has No Idea How Many Sex Offenders Have Custody of Children

Family Courts have no record of how many sex offenders, or partners of sex offenders, have been awarded custody of children, ACT New Zealand MP Deborah Coddington said today.

"In reply to written questions asking how many sex offenders or partners of sex offenders have been awarded custody of children, Associate Minister of Justice Lianne Dalziel said the Family Courts "do not hold this information".

Miss Coddington said she believed the Family Court, and CYFS, need to be more responsible and accountable.

"Since I used Parliamentary Privilege to name a sex offender who CYFS was pushing the Family Court to allow custody of two small children, I have been inundated with emails and letters, particularly from fathers desperate to keep their children away from convicted sex offenders in a relationship with the children's mother.

"In one case, a mother who took out a protection order against her ex-husband, now in jail for sexually abusing children, is fighting CYFS and the Family Court who insist this father has a right to be involved in Family Group Conferences," Miss Coddington said.

"As this woman said, if she breached the protection order herself, CYFS would probably remove her children from her care. So what gives CYFS the right to breach a protection order?

"I believe a Family Court judge should be required to ask, before awarding custody, for any relevant information from the Police, Justice Ministry - even the Immigration Department - regarding the adults who will be in a household with the children. Then the decision should be made with full knowledge of the caregivers' backgrounds.

"We're talking about children who are already in a vulnerable situation. The State is stepping in to protect them. The courts should not be recklessly placing them in danger," Miss Coddington said.

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