National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR)

Executive summary

In 1988, eleven year-old Christopher Stephenson was brutally murdered at the hands of a convicted pedophile on statutory release. At the 1993 coroner's inquest into Christopher's death, the coroner's jury recommended creating a national registry for convicted sex offenders, requiring that they register with their local police. The establishment of a National Sex Offender Registry had been a topic of discussion at various levels of government over a ten-year period. On December 15, 2004, the Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA) came into force thereby mandating offenders in receipt of a court order to register with the National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR).

On March 17, 2010, the Government introduced Bill S-2, an Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (short title: Protecting Victims from Sex Offenders Act). Bill S-2 received Royal Assent on December 15, 2010, and came into force on April 15, 2011. Bill S-2 addressed a number of concerns with the enforcement and administration of the SOIRA. Key amendments include the authority to use the Registry to prevent sexual crimes, the inclusion of vehicle information, and the ability to register persons convicted of equivalent sexual offences abroad and entering Canada.

On December 1, 2016, the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act (formerly called Bill C-26) came into force. The Act brought some key amendments to SOIRA, including more stringent reporting requirements for sex offenders; a new category of child sex offenders; the inclusion of information on drivers' licences, passports, and travel outside Canada; and the authorization of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to assist in the prevention and investigation of sexual crime.

The NSOR is comprised of three components namely, (1) the federal legislative framework (SOIRA); (2) an electronic sex offender database administered by the RCMP; and (3) administration and enforcement of the legislation by police agencies. These three elements combine to create a tool to assist police officers in the prevention and investigation of sexual offences. The Registry allows them to search its contents using established criteria to identify possible suspects residing in the vicinity of the crime.

The NSOR database contains personal information including: offender name, date of birth, gender, main residence, secondary residence, employment type and title, employer name and address, volunteer organization, volunteer type and title, vehicle description (registered or regularly used), phone numbers, height, weight, photograph, identifying marks (e.g. tattoos, scars), the offence for which the offender has been convicted and method of operation. With the coming into force of the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act, it will also include drivers' licences, passports, and information about travel outside Canada. Registration of information in the NSOR database is done in accordance with Section 15(1) of the SOIRA which requires the information be retained in the database indefinitely. In accordance with Section 15(2) and (3) of the SOIRA, removal and destruction of information may occur when an offender is acquitted of every offence associated to an order; upon receipt of a free pardon (Her Majesty's royal prerogative of mercy); and when an Exemption Order is granted.

The NSOR is secured to Protected "B" level, uses Government of Canada (GOC) Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Entrust enabled, and operates on a stringent and internal role based access control (RBAC) mechanism. The database resides in Ottawa at the Application Development Branch (ADB) of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) sector of the RCMP.

The Government of Canada, in partnership with the provinces and territories, created the NSOR to provide rapid access by police to current and vital information on convicted sex offenders. Revisions were made to the legislation to enhance public safety and make the NSOR a more effective and efficient tool for police to prevent or investigate crimes of a sexual nature by identifying possible suspects known to reside in proximity of an offence site. The revisions provide Canadian law enforcement agencies with the ability to monitor the location of convicted sex offenders and assists police officers responding to serious incidents of a sexual nature.

Sections 10 and 11 of the Privacy Act requires government institutions to include in personal information banks (PIB) all information under the control of the institution and to publish an index of all personal information banks within the institution. RCMP PPU 095, created for the NSOR database, will be amended to inform Canadians regarding the impact of the revised legislation on the collection, use, access, disclosure, retention and disposal of their personal information. The addenda to the initial privacy impact assessment were completed in September 2011 and September 2016 to assess the privacy implications of the revised legislation as a consequence of Bill S-2 and Bill C-26.

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