Sex offence register to be widened

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The Independent Online

Plans to place the names and addresses of sexually motivated killers, kidnappers and other criminals on the sex offenders' register were unveiled yesterday by the Government.

The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, moved to close loopholes which allow serious offenders to escape the register even though their crime was driven by a sexual motive.

The consultation document issued yesterday also indicated that the Government is resisting pressure to make the register accessible to the families of victims of sex offenders, the campaign mounted following the killing of Sussex schoolgirl Sarah Payne and backed by the News of the World. However the document indicates that Ministers have not ruled out a kind of controlled access for some people.

At present, only people convicted of sexual offences appear on the list, which now has around 15,000 names and addresses. The new proposals would also allow for the registration of those convicted of crimes like murder, grievous bodily harm and malicious wounding, as long as there is a sexual element involved. Burglary with intent to rape would also be included

The Home Office minister Beverley Hughes said: "This is a very important review. Its proposals would serve to enhance greatly the operation and effectiveness of the sex offenders' register, and contribute to the protection of the public from dangerous offenders."

But the new proposals will be unlikely to result in a major increase in the numbers on the register, according to Home Office sources. This is largely due to a proposal that those under the age of 20 who are cautioned or conditionally discharged for sex offences involving people under 18 no longer be included.