Letter: A step forward against sex abuse

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Home Office guidance on the sex offenders register (report, 12 August) allows the police to let certain people know about convicted paedophiles living in their area - but only in exceptional circumstances and as long as they do so with the utmost care. Parents, and the general public, will want to know whether their children will be safer as a result.

The NSPCC sees this as an important step forward. It will send out the message to sex offenders that they can no longer act with impunity and the register should become increasingly effective over the years.

At present, it is undeniably limited. Presumably, the police will be disclosing information on but a small proportion of the 6,000 convicted child sex offenders currently in prison or under supervision. Not on the register are the 100,000 or so men who have previous convictions for child sex abuse but have now been released, let alone the hundreds of thousands of offenders with no convictions.

Much more needs to be done to provide an effective defence for our children. We need to improve the supervision of child sex offenders following release from prison. We need to make it illegal for paedophiles to seek work with children and improve the vetting system for people applying for such work. We need to set up better systems to investigate individuals or networks who abuse lots of children. We need to ensure that all individuals who have abused children are successfully prosecuted.

Protecting children from paedophiles is always going to be a game of cat and mouse. But now the cats have bigger claws and the mice have fewer holes in which to hide. If just one child is protected by this new measure, that is a success.


Director of Children's Services

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

London EC2