Anti-paedophile protests to resume

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The Independent Online

Anti-paedophile demonstrators who brought chaos to a Portsmouth housing estate threatened to re-start protests following the Home Secretary's decision to deny parents access to the Sex Offenders Register.

Anti-paedophile demonstrators who brought chaos to a Portsmouth housing estate threatened to re-start protests following the Home Secretary's decision to deny parents access to the Sex Offenders Register.

Last week Jack Straw insisted that the register would not be made public, as he unveiled a new package of child protection measures in the wake of the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne.

Her parents, Michael and Sara, had appealed for people to have the right to see the list of convicted paedophiles as part of a new "Sarah's Law" to protect children.

Following the Home Secretary's announcement, the Portsmouth anti-paedophile demonstrators - who targeted alleged paedophiles including a number of innocent people - threatened to re-start their protests.

Katrina Kessel, of Residents Against Paedophiles, said: "They are just really angry about Jack Straw's decision and we feel we are going to start doing something.

"We do not believe it [the register] should be kept confidential to the police." A vigil would go ahead tonight, she added.

Syd Rapson, Labour MP for Portsmouth North, said he was worried by the development and added: "It would be very sad if the violence returned."

Mr Straw, whose decision not to make the register public was backed by Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe, said he had considered whether to allow controlled access to the Sex Offenders Register.

"But in practice controlling such access would be impossible to enforce," he said.

"Such an arrangement would not in our judgment assist the protection of children or public safety."

Instead, police and probation services would have a statutory duty to make arrangements to assess and manage all sex and violent offenders released.

The NSPCC said the new measures were a major step forward.

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