North Lanarkshire Council chief executive Gavin Whitefield said:
the council has started to take action to address those recommendations
which relate to us. North Lanarkshire Council, in conjunction with other
partners where appropriate, will implement the remainder of the
recommendations as soon as possible.
'The investigation did not find evidence that any of the issues behind the
lessons to be learned, either for individual agencies or in joint working,
would have prevented the incident from taking place. It highlights
weaknesses in systems and processes. The council has invested substantial
resources in providing what are usually high standards of services. It is
disappointing that in this case we have not met those standards.
'The report does recognise, however, that even the most accurate forms of
risk assessment and the most effective supervision arrangements
regrettably will not guarantee that a determined offender will not
re-offend, as it is not possible to eliminate risk altogether.
'The findings of the independent review also highlight the complex and
difficult task faced on a daily basis by local authorities and partner
agencies across Scotland in managing sex offenders in the community. The
recommendations recognise some of the national issues around managing sex
offenders in the community which we believes requires further legislation,
a matter that this council has raised with Scottish ministers previously.
'We will also be responding to the minister's instruction for Scottish
councils, the prison service and the police to review medium and high risk
sex offenders as a priority.'
The council fully accepts the lessons to be learned identified in the
report. It is however important to note that:
1.The incident itself has not been assessed as an avoidable one, nor
have any of the specified lessons to be learned been identified as
contributory factors. The report notes that, 'Even if the agencies had
managed this case to an optimal standard it is still entirely possible
that the offence would have taken place, as risk can never be eliminated
2.No member of staff has been identified as being negligent in their
actions; issues identified are systemic in nature.
3.Whilst the process of finding accommodation for the offender is
described as laborious, the use of the homeless persons unit is not
subject to criticism by the SWIA. The report recognises that for the most
part, knowing where a sex offender is and being able to monitor and manage
them effectively is one of the strongest safeguards for the public.
4.The nature and quality of the risk assessments undertaken by all
agencies has been highlighted. There is currently no common nationally
accredited risk assessment tool used by agencies working with high risk
offenders, although the police and criminal justice social work across
Scotland are working to address this. The report recognises however, that
'even the most accurate forms of risk assessment will be wrong in a
percentage of cases, and even the most diligent supervision package will
not guarantee that a determined offender will not offend. It is never
possible to eliminate risk altogether'.
5.The development of the Joint Protocol for Managing Sex Offenders has
been acknowledged, albeit it has been suggested that it would benefit from
being simplified. North Lanarkshire and Strathclyde Police, 'N' Division
developed the protocol to improve inter agency communication and strong
inter agency links are recognised within the report.