Why sex offender list must be public

A Panorama programme on BBC One last night showed clearly why the authorities cannot be relied upon to protect the public from predatory sex offenders and that only a public register can provide adequate protection.

The show focused on two bail hostels in Bristol and found that the ‘close supervision’ promised by politicians is a myth. There are 2,000 offenders living in 100 or so hostels in England and Wales on court orders and on licence from prison. An undercover reporter for the BBC worked in a hostel and discovered staff were mostly powerless to stop residents going out and committing a string of crimes. The hostels were also located within yards of three nurseries. What was particularly shocking was that predatory sex offenders and murderers were allowed unsupervised leave throughout the day to mix with their chosen victim group – children and lone women. Meanwhile, because criminal records are secret, the women and parents of the children had no idea about the men’s histories.

As I have written before, it is an outrage that so-called ‘privacy’ rights of convicted criminals are placed above the rights of the law-abiding public to be protected. Particularly the rights of the most vulnerable people in society namely women and children. Criminal sentences are handed down in open court. Our taxes have paid for the Criminal Records Bureau to compile all the records into a central database and yet the general public is forbidden access to this data.

The BBC secretly followed several residents as they left the hostel. Convicted paedophile and child-killer Frank Parker was seen befriending children outside the hostel and admitting that he’d taken a photo of a semi-naked teenager who he invited up to his hostel room. Hostel and probation staff admit they cannot keep these men under constant surveillance – there isn’t the money or the manpower. Even the police aren’t able to do it.

The solution is blindingly obvious. Let the people protect themselves. A properly managed public sex offenders’ register like the ones found in the USA means that the burden of surveillance does not fall solely on the police and probation services.

Scotland may become the first part of the UK to adopt a version of ‘Megan’s Law’. The Times reported yesterday that such a plan is likely to be included in the Labour manifesto for the Scottish Parliament elections in May. It is about time our own Parliament introduced similar transparency.

6 Responses to “Why sex offender list must be public”

  1. samantha thomas says:

    i have 2 children and would like to know how many sex offenders live in my area as i do not
    know how safe my children are playing in the park on their own. If this information was
    available i would know how safe the area was and if it wasnt safe i would know what areas
    had no sex offenders or less, so i could move.

  2. andrea says:

    I agree, parents need the tools to protect their children and one these tools should be public record of where sex offenders are located.
    Parents need the knowledge that their local area is safe for their children to play to go school etc

  3. nicola says:

    i agree totally that parents should be able to find out if there any sex offenders living in my area as i have 3 young children and i do not feel safe letting them out to play. If i was to have this information available to me then i would know how safe the area is.

  4. clare says:

    Was really shocked that i was unable to get any info on my area, these people lose their rights when they decide to commit these awful crimes. Where are my rights to protect my children?

  5. Kelly says:

    I am absolutely furious that I am unable to find out if there are any sex offenders in my area! I have a small child and need to know if he is at risk. How can I be sure if he is safe if I dont know what sort of people are living around me?

  6. Steve says:

    Of course the other obvious solution is TO LOOK AFETR YOUR BLOODY SPROGS!! Your right to protect your children is unaffected. It means YOU need to take active measures, like; actually parenting rather than letting schools and television do it for you, supervising your children, and investing your time to ensure that your little demons grow up to be well adjusted and contributing members of society.