(Notifying the public about high risk sex offenders)
What does CNAC do?
Who is on the Committee?
How are offenders referred to the Committee?
How does the Committee look at a case?
What can the Committee do?
What happens after a recommendation has been made?
What can you do when you see or hear a notification?
The Community Notification Advisory Committee (CNAC) reviews cases of convicted sexual offenders thought to be at high risk to offend again and advises police about whether the public should be warned about such offenders living in the community. Manitoba was the first province in Canada to set up this type of program.
The committee is made up of people from the criminal justice and mental health systems who have the expertise to determine whether an offender is likely to commit further crimes. It has representatives from the RCMP, Winnipeg Police Service, Brandon Police Service, Manitoba Public Prosecutions, Manitoba Corrections, Correctional Services Canada and Manitoba Health. It also has a private citizen as a member to represent the interests of the general public.
When a police agency learns that a potentially dangerous convicted sexual offender is about to be released from jail, or is already living in the community, the situation is investigated to determine if the offender poses a threat to commit another sexual offence. If the police believe a threat exists, they refer the case to the committee for a recommendation about whether the public should be warned. If possible, offenders are told that their case has been referred to the committee and that a public notification may be made. They are given an opportunity to make a written submission to the committee or get someone to do so on their behalf.
When the committee considers a case, it must decide what risk the offender poses, if the public should be warned and what type of warning should be made if it is needed. To reach those decisions, the committee carefully reviews all of the information they can about the offender, including:
Before deciding to name an offender publicly, the committee must also balance issues such as individual privacy rights, the risks that come with public alarm and what the effect on previous victims might be. The committee's discussions and deliberations are confidential.
Once it has done a thorough review of the case, the committee can recommend one of the following measures:
Once the committee has made a decision on a case, the recommendation is sent to the police service that will handle it. The police then decide if action will be taken. The police agency is ultimately responsible for what action is or is not taken. When it is possible and appropriate, the police notify the offender and past victims before making a public notification.
The purpose of public warnings is to give people the information they need to identify potential dangers to themselves and their families, develop safety plans and street-proof their children. THE WARNINGS ARE MADE ONLY SO THE PUBLIC MAY TAKE PROTECTIVE ACTION. THE POLICE WILL NOT TOLERATE ANY FORM OF VIGILANTE ACTIVITY OR OTHER UNREASONABLE CONDUCT DIRECTED AT AN OFFENDER. If you see the offender in public, you do not have to call the police unless he or she is committing a crime, harassing or threatening someone or behaving in a way that makes you think that there is a danger that he or she will commit a crime.
People notified about an offender should review their own safety status and practices. For example, it is always a good idea to stay away from poorly lit areas at night, ensure doors and windows are locked, and make sure someone knows if you are working late and when you should be home. Parents should ensure their children are aware of potentially dangerous situations, such as being offered a ride, candy or money or being asked to help find a lost pet. Children need to know what to do in these situations, and parents may want to review these safety precautions when a public alert has been made.
Community Notification Advisory Committee
Telephone: (204) 945-3272
Fax: (204) 945-0433