Track child sex offenders by satellite, says charity

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The Independent Online

Satellite tracking and lie detector tests could help protect children from sex offenders, a report by a leading children's charity said today.

The compulsory use of polygraph tests and tracking devices could radically improve the supervision of sex offenders released in to the community, Barnardo's said.

Its chief executive Martin Narey said the measures would be more effective than the introduction of a Sarah's Law in protecting children.

Mr Narey, former Head of Prison and Probation Service, said such a law would create a false sense of security and risk forcing offenders underground.

He said polygraph tests have been shown to be effective in monitoring whether offenders comply with their licence conditions.

And he added that satellite tracking technology, which makes it possible to follow the movements of offenders, has already been piloted in three areas of England.

Mr Narey said: "Having a child abducted and assaulted is every mother and father's nightmare.

"Barnardo's is committed to protecting children from harm, but we feel that a Sarah's Law would offer a false comfort to parents and could put children in more, not less, danger.

"That said, the current arrangements for the safe supervision of dangerous offenders need to be strengthened and public confidence restored.

"Our report outlines how the use of polygraphs and satellite tracking could radically improve the effectiveness of supervision.

"All the indications are that polygraphs can be effective in helping control behaviour.

"I have personally seen their use on sex offenders, spoken to the probation staff who have used this technology in a pilot in the North East, and been impressed by the officers conviction that it significantly improves the rigour of supervision."

The Government is expected to once again bring forward a bill on offender management in the Queen's speech at Westminster tomorrow.

Last year it announced the Management of Offenders Bill, but has not yet been published.

There has been a sustained campaign for access to information about the identity of sex offenders living in the community.

The move was dubbed Sarah's Law after Sarah Payne who was kidnapped and murdered by convicted sex offender Roy Whiting.

But the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said the law would drive sex offenders away from supervision and into hiding.

Senior members of Barnardo's believe there will be specific circumstances when the authorities must advise families of the potential danger from a sex offender.

Multi Agency Protection Panels (MAPPAs), groups that manage the most dangerous offenders once they are released from prison, already have the power to give some individuals and agencies details of registered sex offenders.