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Paper  7 - 26 January 2001

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

26 January 2001

PROPOSALS TO BETTER PROTECT CHILDREN FROM POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS OFFENDERS

Report by the Head of Chief Executives’ Office, Portsmouth City Council, in conjunction with the Chief Executives’ Group

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RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) That the Association welcomes the proposals announced by the Government on 15 September 2000 and in particular the speedy action taken by including necessary provisions in the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act;

(2) That the Association lobbies the LGA and relevant Government departments to include the following provisions in legislation at the earliest opportunity:-

- making the Sex Offenders Register retrospective to cover all known Schedule 1 Sex Offenders; and

- additional powers for housing authorities to require known child sex offenders to move to different accommodation where there is a genuine fear for the safety of children.

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1. National publicity was given to these issues following the case of Sarah Payne and the campaign which followed, run by the "News of the World". Locally, the impact of this reached unexpected proportions when, what started as a peaceful protest in Paulsgrove, led to violent actions by a small minority of people on the estate.

2. Meetings took place between the City Council, the Police and the Paulsgrove ‘Residents Against Paedophiles’ (RAP), when it became clear that RAP believed that existing processes and legislation were insufficient and they proposed to raise a petition to seek a number of changes in the law.

3. A Protocol for Potentially Dangerous Offenders already operates - drawn up between the Police, Probation and Social Services Departments in Hampshire, Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and Southampton. This deals with the appropriate way of calling risk assessment meetings to consider situations where it appears that children may be at risk.

4. The Government announced a package of measures to strengthen the protection of children and provide better information to the public on the management of sex and violent offenders released into the community (Home Office Press Release dated 15 September 2000). These measures build on good practice in existing local Protocols. However, two areas in which the City Council think these proposals are lacking are:-

(a) in not making the Sex Offenders Register retrospective to cover all known Schedule 1 offenders

(b) in not providing adequate powers to housing authorities to require known child sex offenders to move to different accommodation where there is a genuine fear for the safety of children.

The City Council requests that the Association supports its position on these matters and lobbies the LGA and Government to include these proposals in legislation at the earliest opportunity. The Chief Executives’ Group endorses these sensible proposals which have been discussed with the Chief Officers of the Police Authority, Probation, Education and Social Services in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

BRIAN PARTRIDGE
Head of Chief Executive’s Department, Portsmouth City Council

Date: 9 January 2001
Annex: 0
Contact: Brian Partridge - 023 9283 4040

Last update: 22/01/2001
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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