Does the sex offender register reduce sex offence rates

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Sex offender register, has been practiced in other countries, such as, Canada and Australia in order to protect the children and defenseless persons from the sex offenders. Sex offender register is defined as the protection for the vulnerable persons and children, and the register is necessary to be updated by the convicted sex offenders to maintain the database. Because of this, it will become the obligation of the prisoner to report continuously after their prison term. Furthermore, sex offender register is proposed for the screening job applicants (The Law Reform, 2008). Hong Kong’s sex offender register is still in the process of interim proposal, therefore the effectiveness of the sex offender register and its functions remain unknown. In the Interim proposals on a sex offender register, it introduces that the sex offender register can provide the data for tracking of the residences and the ex-sex offender. It also introduces the restriction disclosure of the information of a person by offering a certification to prove the suitability of the applicant.

As sex offender register aims at protecting the vulnerable persons, therefore it is important to find out if the sex offender register would have any effect on the sex offence rate. The goal of this research is to find out if the sex offender register would help reduce on the sex offence rate or not, which type of sex offence and offenders would be greatly deterred by the sex offender register. We aim at finding out not only for the vulnerable persons, but the deterrence of the sex offence rate on the whole society.

Theoretical field

In the theoretical field, deterrence of the sex offender register is required so as to avoid more vulnerable people are suffered. Recidivism will be measured for the successfulness of sex offender register. Deterrence is divided into specific and general by most of the criminologists. Deterrence can be defined as the prevention of criminal acts by the use or threat of punishment(Schmalleger, 2006; Walsh& Hemmens, 2008). While specific deterrence is for the prevention of particular offenders on repeat criminality, and general deterrence refers to the prevention of a general population from committing similar crimes that is being committed.

Literature review

In literatures, lots of researches on the sex offender notification are conducted in other countries, but not for Asia area.

Prescott and Rockoff (2008) have examined the impact of sex offender register and notification laws on criminal behavior in 15 states. They use the official crime data in order to find out the deterrence and they analyze the effects of registration and notification separately. In the result, they find that if the sex offender register is provided to local authorities, there will be less local victims and result in a crime reduction. Furthermore, if there is intention from policymakers, the crime will be locally concentrated reduced. They also found that registered offenders might have more likelihood to commit again when compare with potential criminals.

In Zevitz and Farkas (2000) have conducted a research on the consequences of the sex offender registration. They conduct the research with varieties of techniques, such as, survey on the probation or parole, also the survey from the law enforcement agencies; they even have a face-to-face interview with the sex offenders in order to find out the effects of the sex offender register. The carrying out of the sex offender registration brings a high cost on the resources and for the sex offenders to be identified.


In order to measure the deterrence on the offenders, we would measure the registered offenders and non-registered offenders respectively. Registered offenders who are those convicted or those performed the prison term or those in probation, while the non-registered offenders refer to those potential offenders, who do not commit related sexual crime before. Furthermore, we would measure the sex offence rate in each related sex offence, such rape, indecent assault, etc, to find out which sex offence would be deterred greatly by the sex offence register.

For the time-frame of the study, the research will take 1 year to compare when sex offender register is in practice and the 1 year before when it is not in practice. For example, if the sex offender register program will carry out in June, 2011, then we will compare the sex offence rate from June, 2011 to May, 2012 with June, 2010 to May, 2011.

As the population and the sample size is the citizens and people in Hong Kong, so we will adopt participant sampling procedures. Only those who commit the related sex offence are involved in the sample size. That is, all related sexual crime and offenders will be taken into account of the calculation in the research period. Therefore, it includes the non-ramdomly assigned control group and non-registered offenders as comparison group. For the crime data, the primary source we decide to use is the Crime statistics from the Hong Kong Police Force. For the validity and reliability of the crime data (Vito , Kunselman, & Tewksbury, 2008), As case will be reported and handled by the Hong Kong Police Force, regardless of the face validity, it has a high content validity. More, it has also high reliability as the consistency of crime statistics is very stable, keep recording and offering per year.

This research is planned to be a quantitative study, as source and data will be collected and exported in number. We will measure the total arrested and convicted outcome from the crime statistics.

Expected result

Regarding the expected result, we assume that there is no significant change in sex offences rate for the registered offenders, while a great reduction of sex offences will be appeared for the potential offenders. Although we assume there is no significant change in registered offenders on the sex offence rate, there is still observable decrease in the sex offence rate. There must be some deterrence effect on the registered offenders as they might afraid of showing the certificate to prove suitability, or letting some authorities to track their history. For the non-registered offender, there might be a great deterrence effect on them, as they still have the chance to choose whether to leave a record on the sex offender register or not. They would take into account when they feel committing sex offense, especially light level sex offence, for example, sexual harassment. As committing that the pain will be greater than the happiness, effective deterrence could be found on the light level sex offences.


The sex offender register has the deterrence effect on the public, it provide another punishment (leaving a record for track) for consideration. Of course, it cannot only depend on the deterrence of the sex offender register; it has to work with the rehabilitation process for the ex-offender. To assert, sex offender register is aim at protecting more vulnerable persons suffer from the ex-offenders. This research is conducted because we would like to investigate except the prevention for the vulnerable people, if there is any deterrence on the sex offence rate. The result of this research might affect the view or the opinions of the public. As deterrence of the sex offender register would affect the occurrence of the sex offences, in other words, less sex offence rate implies fewer victims suffered. Furthermore, this study may awake some people to consider whether a sex offender register is necessary in Hong Kong society. Apart from concerning the privacy of the offenders and the protection of vulnerable persons, does the sex offender registers functional in other point of view?