Dangerous Neighbors: Risk Control, Community Notification and Sex Offender Release

  • Jordan AndersonEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Risk, Crime and Society book series (PSRCS)


 This chapter uses community notification to examine the ways in which risk control in New Zealand, as in similar societies, drives a distinct strand of penal policy development. Community notification policy and practice has expanded across the advanced liberal democracies, far beyond the initial bounds set out in Megan’s Law in the United States in 1994. Using the case of New Zealand, where notification is not legislated, the chapter explores the way that communities are often informed about the presence of sex offenders in ad hoc and unpredictable ways, triggering a range of fear-based responses. Drawing from interviews with a range of leaders from communities who experienced de facto notification, the chapter considers whether the nuances of the community reaction, in particular the depth of insecurity and range of proposed ‘sensible’ solutions, are typical of lived experiences of risk control and regulation in neoliberal societies, and the way that they are becoming increasingly intolerant of risky individuals: those who threaten irreparable harm to vulnerable people.


Community notification Sex offender release Post-sentence regulation New Zealand Megan’s Law Zygmunt Bauman Liquid modernity Sex offender Community 


  1. Bauman, Z. (2000). Liquid Modernity. Cambridge, UK, Polity Press.Google Scholar
  2. Brown v Attorney-General. (2006). NZAR 552 (DC) Child Protection (Child Sex Offender Government Agency Registration) Act 2016 (NZ).Google Scholar
  3. Cumming, G. (2000). Boarding Houses: The Neighbour Nobody Wants. New Zealand Herald. Retrieved from
  4. Department of Corrections. (2018). Accommodation Review. Released to me under the Official Information Act.Google Scholar
  5. Dunkelman, M. (2014). The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  6. Furedi, F. (1997). Culture of Fear: Risk-taking and the Morality of Low Expectations. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  7. Garland, D. (2001). The Culture of Control. Oxford: UK, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Greer, C., and Jewkes, Y. (2005). Extremes of Otherness: Media Images of Social Exclusion. Social Justice, 32(1), pp. 20–31.Google Scholar
  9. Hacking, I. (2003). Risk and Dirt. In R. V. Ericson and A. Doyle (Eds.) Risk and Morality. Toronto, CA: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  10. Ilea, A. (2018). What about the sex offenders? Addressing sexual harm from an abolitionist perspective. Critical Criminology, 26(8), pp. 357–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jewkes, Y. (2015). Media and Crime. London: Sage Publications Ltd.Google Scholar
  12. Jones, T, and Newburn, T. (2005). Comparative Criminal Justice Policy Making in the United States and the United Kingdom: The Case of Private Prisons. British Journal of Criminology, 45(1), pp. 58–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ministry for Business, Innovation, and Employment. (2018). Reform of the Residential Tenancies Act: Discussion Document. Retrieved from
  14. McIntosh, T. (2004). Living Southside. In I. Carter, D. Craig and S. Matthewman (Eds.) Almighty Auckland? Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.Google Scholar
  15. New Zealand Index of Deprivation. (2013). Deprivation Index. Retrieved from
  16. New Zealand Parole Board. (2012). Decisions of Public Interest: Stewart Murray Wilson. Retrieved from
  17. Pratt, J. (2007). Penal Populism. Oxon, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Pratt, J. (2015). ‘Immobilisation in the Age of Mobility’ in Anna Eriksson (Ed.) Punishing the Other: The Social Production of Immorality Revisited. Oxon, UK, Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Pratt, J. (2016). Risk Control, Rights and Legitimacy in the Limited Liability State. British Journal of Criminology. Retrieved from
  20. Pratt, J., and Anderson, J. (2016). “The Beast of Blenheim”, Risk and the Rise of the Security Sanction. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 49(4), pp. 528–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rose, N. (2000). Government and Control. British Journal of Criminology, 40(2), pp. 321–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Statistics New Zealand. (2013a). Māngere Ōtāhuhu Local Board Area Cultural Diversity. Retrieved from
  23. Statistics New Zealand. (2013b). Māngere Ōtāhuhu Local Board Area Housing. Retrieved from
  24. Valentine, G. (1996). Angels and Devils: Moral Landscapes of Childhood. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 14(1), pp. 581–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Whitting, L., Day, A., and Powell, M. (2014). The Impact of Community Notification on the Management of Offenders in the Community: An Australian Perspective. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 47(2), pp. 240–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of CriminologyVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations