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SEX OFFENDERS COULD SLIP AWAY AFTER TABLOID ATTACK

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Council chiefs have slammed the News of the World's name and shame campaign against paedophiles following riots at ...
Council chiefs have slammed the News of the World's name and shame campaign against paedophiles following riots at Portsmouth City Council and the death of an Oldham MBC resident charged with child sex offences.

The newspaper listed the names, locations and pictures of registered and convicted child sex offenders following the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne. It has threatened to restart its campaign.

The riots began as a peaceful demonstration by parents last Thursday outside the house of a convicted paedophile living in Portsmouth's Paulsgrove estate. Stones were thrown and a car overturned and set alight after the demonstration was hijacked by what police described as 'troublemakers'.

The demonstration continued for several days, moving to an area housing office where council staff were threatened, windows were broken and human faeces left outside.

Portsmouth housing director Jeff Wellings said: 'Staff have been abused and threatened as a result of concerns some residents have about alleged paedophiles in their area. We have shut the office today [Wednesday] because there's a large demonstration planned for this morning.

'There are so many rumours about who's a paedophile and who's not it's hard to keep track of the situation. The News of the World has done nothing to further the intellectual debate about how paedophiles need to be dealt with.'

Portsmouth social services director Rob Hutchinson said: 'The most dangerous paedophile is the one who goes underground and with whom we lose contact. Driving people out of communities sorts things out temporarily, but moves the problem to other communities.'

Portsmouth has offered to rehouse any owner-occupier or council tenant who feels threatened, whether or not they are a convicted paedophile.

In other parts of the country people have been persecuted in cases of mistaken identity, and sex offenders have fled their homes.

Oldham resident James White, who was due to appear in court on charges of child sex offences, died days after being chased from his house by a gang of angry men. His death appeared to be suicide.

Councils work with the police and probation service to monitor sex offenders. Oldham social services director Gwylfa Evans said the newspaper's campaign would make this job harder. 'We haven't had the evidence yet, we weren't directly involved with this particular gentleman at this stage, but in the long run paedophiles will feel they have got to go underground, and that makes it far harder to carry out our joint responsibility to keep track of them and protect the public,' he said.

'I'm very, very disappointed the News of the World made the decision it did.'

Darlington BC social services director Colin Morris said the council had checked to see if any of those named by the tabloid lived in its wards. He said: 'It's not a good thing to do. It's driving all the offenders out of public view.'

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