Community notification provisions have also been at the centre of much debate in the United Kingdom, and most of the criticisms of these provisions have mirrored those of American Megan's Laws. It is argued that community notification heightens fear within communities and increases recidivism among released offenders who are often ostracized, harassed and prevented from finding work. Violence and harassment against sex offenders have been spurred in the United Kingdom by community notification. In one case, a teenage girl was killed in an arson attack on a sex offender, whose apartment was ablaze (Heartfield, 1998). Pedophiles have been targeted by an organization called People Against Child Abuse, a group that has held all-night vigils outside sex offenders' homes. Clearly, in the U. K., the rights of released offenders to privacy and security of the person are being jeopardized by the disclosure of sex offender's identities to the community.


As in the United States, Australian criminal law is made primarily by state governments and thus, a variety of dangerous offender provisions within criminal legislation have been introduced. The first of these provisions was introduced in New South Wales in 1905 and allowed for the preventive detainment of repeat offenders. Most Australian states have legislated some kind of preventive sentencing measures since then, but up until 1990, these measures were rarely used (Australasian Legal Information Institute, 1999). New South Wales currently deals with dangerous offenders according to the provisions of the Habitual Criminals Act of 1957. Under this law, an offender can be designated a 'habitual criminal' and given a protective sentence of between five and fourteen years, if certain conditions are met. The offender must be twenty-five years of age or older and have served, over separate periods, sentences for at least two indictable offences (ALII, 1999). Further, a judge must decide that such preventive detention is required to protect the public.

Of the states and territories of Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia have the most repressive of dangerous offender provisions, as sentences are indefinite and reviews are not required. In Tasmania, under the Criminal Code Act 1924 (Tas), an offender who appears to be at least seventeen years of age and who has committed at least two violent offences can be declared a dangerous offender and can be detained indeterminately. A judge must consider the potential of future harm that could be caused by the offender, the circumstances of his offences, medical and psychiatric opinion, and any other matters of relevance (ALII, 1999). There is no review process after an offender is declared dangerous and incarcerated in Tasmania. In Western Australia, The Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA) allows for the indeterminate sentencing of repeat offenders convicted of particular sentences, and the Crimes (Serious and Repeat Offenders) Act 1992 (WA) contains provisions for the indeterminate incarceration of youths and adults, and allows for release through a Supreme Court Order or at the discretion of the Governor.

In the state of Queensland, the Penalties and Sentencing Act 1992 (Qld) allows for the indeterminate sentencing of repeat violent offenders "where the court is satisfied that mental health legislation does not apply and that the offender is 'a serious danger to the community'" (ALII, 1999, p. 5). The court must, when imposing a sentence of indeterminate length, state the length of custody that would have been given had the offender not been declared dangerous. The indeterminate sentence can be reviewed after this specified amount of time has passed.


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