National Security Minister Wayne Caines has stated that “no legal mechanism” exists to keep convicted sex offender Jonathan Cumberbatch behind bars beyond his scheduled release date on February 21.

The Minister’s statement follows the advance notice of the pending release, with photographs of the inmate, by Attorney General Kathy Simmons, who issued the public warning.

Cumberbatch was sentenced to serve 12 years in 2010 for crimes against children, and is considered to be “of the highest risk to the community”.

“Understandably, the impending release of Jonathan Cumberbatch is concerning to the community,” said Minister Caines.

“It is important to note that regrettably, there is no legal mechanism currently available to further detain him in prison. The notification issued by the Attorney General is an important feature of cases like this and the heightened public awareness of his release is exactly what the notice is for.

“The safety of young people in particular is paramount in our considerations and through the work of the Ministry of Legal Affairs we expect to bring amendments to relevant laws that will increase the powers of the criminal justice system in these terrible cases.”

It was also noted that Cumberbatch completed the sexual offenders programme in May 2012, and that his release is not the result of a grant of parole or other license.

The inmate is being released on his earliest release date as he lost no remission whilst incarcerated.

The statement issued by Mr Caines included a media note that said: “The Notice issued by the Minister responsible for Justice is a pro-active measure designed to ensure maximum public awareness in these circumstances.

“There is a Committee actively working to address the law in this area and among their anticipated recommendations is a means by which to further protect the public in cases where offenders continue to present the risk of further harm to the public after a term of incarceration.”