Tabloid threat to resume campaign

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Ministers were faced with threats last night of a renewed "naming and shaming" campaign against paedophiles, when they refused to commit to giving the public access to offenders' names and addresses.

Ministers were faced with threats last night of a renewed "naming and shaming" campaign against paedophiles, when they refused to commit to giving the public access to offenders' names and addresses.

The News of the World had claimed victory in its campaign for a "Sarah's Law", in memory of the murdered eight year-old schoolgirl, Sarah Payne.

But Home Office minister Paul Boateng made it clear yesterday that it was up to law enforcement agencies to decide when to tell members of a community about sex offenders who were deemed a risk.

In a BBC television interview he said the Government would continue to strengthen the law, but added that the newspaper's campaign had threatened public order and child welfare. "The decisions about whether or not people are told names and addresses are not matters for newspapers, they are not matters for ministers, they are matters for police and the probation service," he said.

A spokesman for the newspaper, which had demanded controlled public access to the register, responded by threatening the Government: "The campaign has not been dropped, suspended or discontinued. If in time we feel that no progress is being made we will re-look at our position regarding the campaign." However, he added that no time limit was being put on its demands.

On Friday, the News of the World halted plans to publish the names and photographs of 110,000 paedophiles. Yesterday, it said it had "put on hold" plans to publish details of a further 100 offenders. The paper reported that 300,000 people had signed a petition for a "Sarah's Law", and published a draft of its revised objectives, which included indefinite detention for dangerous paedophiles.

Last Thursday and Friday evenings, mobs of up to 300 people descended on the home of a 53-year-old taxi driver from Portsmouth who was named by the paper. The tabloid made no mention of the violence, but it did claim to have "nailed a monster" by publishing a photograph of a former swimming instructor arrested in Tenerife last week in connection with sex assaults. Cleveland police said it had endangered months of work to extradite him.

There was further vigilante activity yesterday, when a crowd gathered outside the West London home of Gary Glitter, after another Sunday tabloid said the disgraced pop singer had returned home after five months abroad. Police were called to the flat because of complaint that people outside were causing a disturbance. The 55-year-old singer, whose real name is Paul Gadd, has served a jail sentence for downloading child pornography. He was said to be visiting London to attend to business affairs.

There was speculation yesterday that ministers might introduce indefinite sentences for sex offences including child rape. Offenders still deemed a threat could be detained by a judge even after they had completed a fixed-term sentence.

Paul Cavadino, the policy director for the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, called for indeterminate sentences for dangerous paedophiles. "Offenders eventually deemed to be safe to be released could then be freed, but under supervision and conditions. If they failed to co-operate they could be recalled to prison," he wrote in a Sunday newspaper.

He also said that Megan's Law, which gives a public right of access to a sex offenders' register in the United States, and which was the inspiration for the revised News of the World campaign, had proved ineffective.There was no difference in re-offending rates between US states where offenders could be identified and those where they were not, he said.

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