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SEX OFFENDERS REGISTER TO BE REVIEWED

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Plans to step up public protection - particularly for children - from ...
Plans to step up public protection - particularly for children - from

sex offenders have been announced by home office minister Charles Clarke.

A major review of Part One of the Sex Offenders Act 1997 will look at

a range of issues arising from the registration requirements for sex

offenders, including those who might travel to the UK.

The review will look closely at how registration is being used and

make sure it continues to work both fairly and effectively.

Mr Clarke said:

'The government shares the concern of parents to protect their

children from sex offenders. The Sex Offenders Act 1997 plays an

important part in protecting the public, especially children, from

the pernicious activities of sex offenders.

'The Register has been enormously successful and has achieved a

extremely high rate of compliance. But we are never complacent

particularly where the safety of our children is concerned. This

review will help us identify any areas of weakness, however small,

and to make sure that everything that can be done, is done.

'But we do not want to drive sex offenders underground where they

could disappear from view and become more dangerous instead of

receiving the treatment they need. We must make sure the balance is

right so that while we protect our children the sex offenders are

given a chance to mend their ways.'

In particular the Review will look at:

- The range of offences covered by the Sex Offenders Act 1997

- how risks posed by sex offenders who travel between countries can

most effectively be addressed

- the registration requirements

Welcoming the review Tony Butler, ACPO spokesperson on sex offender

issues and chief constable of Gloucestershire Constabulary, said:

'The Sex Offenders Act is widely regarded, not only in the UK but

also abroad, as being successful. Indeed, a number of other countries

have expressed their interest in developing similar arrangements.

However, over the past two and a half years a great deal has been

learnt and the time is now right to build on the current arrangements

and explore how further improvements can be made.

'The ACPO Crime Committee has regularly reviewed and reported to the

home office on the Act and is pleased that the government has

signaled its commitment to further strengthening the provisions.'

The review team will comprise representatives from the home office,

other government departments, the Association of Chief Police

Officers and the Association of Chief Officers of Probation.

Charities, voluntary organisations and other bodies with an interest

in child safety will be invited to a series of meetings to discuss

the issues involved and to put forward their own suggestions for

improvement.

A full public consultation, based on those discussions, will be

published early next year.

NOTES

1. A copy of the Written Answer given by Mr Clarke to a

Parliamentary Question from Philip Hope MP (Corby) is attached.

2. The full terms of reference of the review's steering group are

attached.

3. Part 1 of the Sex Offenders Act 1997 requires anyone convicted

or cautioned of specified offences to notify the police of their

name and address and any subsequent changes.

4. The registration requirement is:

- not subject to appeal or review, except in the case of a

successful appeal against conviction or sentence for the

qualifying offence;

- retrospective inasmuch as it applies to offenders who were in

custody or under supervision in the community on the date of

implementation;

- applicable throughout the United Kingdom and includes those

convicted by courts martial;

- of varying duration and depends on the sentence given by the

court. For example, anyone jailed for 30 months or more will be on

the register for the rest of their life. If they are sent to

prison for between six months and 30 months they would be

registered for 10 years

- Failure to register could involve being sent to jail for up to six

months, a fine of E5,000, or both.

SEX OFFENDERS ACT 1997 - REVIEW OF PART ONE

Aim:

To strengthen the operation and effectiveness of the Sex Offenders

Act 1997 in contributing to the protection of the public from sex

offenders.

Terms of reference:

To guide and oversee a review of the operation of part one of the Sex

Offenders Act 1997 (the 1997 Act), including a public, written

consultation process, and to advise on any proposed amendments to the

1997 Act.

In particular:

- to address the findings of an evaluation of the operation of the

1997 Act (due to be published shortly);

- to consider the offences which should render an offender liable

for registration under the Act;

- to consider the position of those offenders convicted abroad but

travelling to the UK who are not currently required to register,

and of those offenders convicted in the UK, who travel, or become

resident, abroad;

- to consult stakeholders about any aspects of the legislation

needing review;

- to submit initial recommendations to Ministers about any necessary

amendments in December 2000

- to assess the impact in terms of cost and effectiveness of any and

all proposed amendments to the Act;

- to consult stakeholders and members of the public on its

conclusions in line with guidance on consultation processes;

- to submit a final report to ministers in May 2001.

Written No 1

(23.06.00)

Mr Phil Hope (Corby): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home

Department, what plans he has to review the provisions of Part 1 of

the Sex Offenders Act 1997; what form the review will take; and over

what period it will take place. (127846)

MR CHARLES CLARKE

I am happy to be able to announce that the Government are

establishing a review of Part 1 of the Sex Offenders Act 1997.

Officials will shortly be setting up a small steering group, which

will direct the review and undertake a consultation process. Research

to be published shortly on the effectiveness of the Act will provide

an important, but not exclusive, background for the review. The

review will examine a wide range of aspects of Part 1 of the Act and

will include consultation with other government departments, non-

government organisations and the general public. I anticipate that

the steering group will report to Ministers at the end of the year.

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