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WARNING ON PAEDOPHILE LAW TRIALS

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Children's charities NSPCC, NCH and Barnardos share the 'horror' of proposals to give parents the right to know if ...
Children's charities NSPCC, NCH and Barnardos share the 'horror' of proposals to give parents the right to know if paedophiles are living near their homes.

Press reports say home secretary John Reid has given the go-ahead for North East Somerset and two other areas to pilot a scheme.

The Home Office says no official decision has been taken on where the pilot areas will be. A spokeswoman said it would not comment until its sex offenders review had been published which would not be until May at the earliest.

The reports say parents will be told how many paedophiles are living in high-risk areas, such as close to schools or parks.

But the plans will only provide 'false comfort' for parents and, in reality will put children in immense danger says Barnardo's.

Chief executive Martin Narey said:

'There are already sound and workable arrangements whereby, for example, head teachers are made aware of the proximity of sex offenders. But a more general arrangement where anyone can be told there are sex offenders in their area will, inevitably, lead to them fleeing supervision.

'We know that dangerous sex offenders need constant and intensive supervision, in Barnardo's view, with the added use of polygraphy and satellite tracking. Offenders who flee from supervision and go underground - a sure consequence if these measures are introduced - could become extremely dangerous'.

The children's commissioner for England said that sex offender disclosures required a balanced approach.

Sir Al Aynsley-Green said:

'I am reassured that these proposals do not include revealing the names and whereabouts of child sex offenders. I remain convinced that moves to identify individual offenders are not in the best interests of our children. Such action would lead to offenders retreating underground, making it more difficult for authorities to monitor them, and result in increased vigilante action in communities. This would not serve to safeguard children and could give a false sense of security for parents. The emphasis this would place on 'Stranger Danger' could also detract from the fact that children are actually most at risk from people they know.

'The concerns of parents striving to keep their children safe from harm must be balanced against the risks to child safety resulting from the further release of information about individual child sex offenders. To challenge the threat of child abuse in our communities these measures must be coupled with an increase in the provision of appropriate treatment for sex offenders on their release, and improvements to the monitoring of child sex offenders by the responsible authorities. Underpinning this is the need for more public education to help us all to recognise concerning behaviour in our communities and to take appropriate steps to keep our children safe.'

Children & adult services

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