First Public Protection Order

The Christchurch High Court has issued the first Public Protection Order the Public Safety (Public Protection Orders) Act 2014.

The respondent 25 year old Glen Anthony Douglas was deemed to be at serious risk of repeat sexual offending so is to be detained for the protection of the public. Douglas has just completed a 3 year sentence for sexual offending against a minor and has a 10 year history of compulsive offending.

This means Douglas can be held indefinitely but can get the decision order reviewed.

JUDGMENT OF NICHOLAS DAVIDSON J (PUBLIC PROTECTION ORDER, WITH LEAVE RESERVED)

The Judgment is length and detailed:

Section 13(1)(b) – Conclusion

[118] The objective and principles of the PPO are expressed in simple and cogent language. Parliament intends that any order is for the protection of members of the public. It is emphatically not to punish the person against whom orders are made.

[119] I am satisfied Mr Douglas has all the characteristics in s 13(2) established by evidence to a high level and at a high level, and that Mr Douglas does pose a very high risk of imminent serious sexual offending as defined in s 13(1)(b). His impulsivity and compulsivity, high level of sexuality, and demonstrated ability to circumvent systems in place to reach his targeted victims, means a PPO may therefore be imposed. However, I must now address whether an ESO would be an adequate response for the protection of the public. If that is the case, I should exercise my discretion not to impose a PPO.

[143] There are persuasive reasons to consider an ESO in the alternative, particularly to test Mr Douglas’ response to treatment. However, the need for potential victim protection is paramount and I do not consider that I am sufficiently informed as to how Mr Douglas would respond, and what risk he would pose after 12 months intensive monitoring. I conclude that a PPO should be made and in doing so I have considered the practical consequences.

[150] Further, during the currency of a PPO, the Chief Executive must apply to the court for a review of the continuing justification for the order within five years after the order is made and then within five years after the first review, and then at intervals of not more than five years, and otherwise whenever the review panel directs the chief executive to apply.

[151] A person subject to a PPO may, with leave of the court, apply to the court for a review of the order. Further provisions for review are addressed under ss 17 and 18 of the PSPO Act.

[152] These provisions demonstrate very clearly that the magnitude of a PPO is recognised by a constant process of review as to whether it remains justified, and whether the management plan remains appropriate. The court is involved at five year intervals, if not earlier.

[153] There is a well made case for the less restrictive ESO regime, but I have decided that the need for protection of potential victims must come first. It is not by any means certain that it will remain in force a lengthy time. It responds to Mr Douglas as he presents today. It may be harder under a PPO to achieve meaningful progress in treating and helping Mr Douglas, but if his response under that regime warrants reconsideration then the path is marked by the legislation. Only to some degree is this in his hands as he suffers from deficits in his behaviour and thinking which are not his fault, but a product of the multiple physiological and psychological influences on him. [154] Whether an ESO with intensive monitoring should be preferred instead of a PPO has proved to be a difficult decision. It always will be except in circumstances of concurrence between experts and even then it is for the Court to make the decision. The very idea of containment other than under sentence, albeit in purpose built accommodation, is inherently troublesome. It is reserved for those cases where there is really no option, to avoid the very high, serious, and imminent risk posed by an individual. Mr Douglas does pose that risk. He may not do so after treatment, and the passage of time, and under the required reviews the PPO may no longer be considered necessary.

Judgment:  The Chief Executive of the Department for Corrections v Douglas