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Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 05:12 GMT 06:12 UK
Tories call for paedophile tracking
satellite
Satellites could soon be tracking sex offenders
Paedophiles should be tracked by high-tech satellites in an effort to allay public fears, according to new proposals unveiled by the Conservative front bench.

Shadow Home Secretary Oliver Letwin wants the radical measure to be considered in an effort to toughen up checks on sex offenders.

In a speech in London on Wednesday, Mr Letwin will also call for further checks to be made to prevent suspected paedophiles getting jobs in boarding schools and residential homes.

Oliver Letwin
Letwin: checks must be toughened up

The proposals are included in a Conservative policy paper, Protecting Children, which presents a number of ideas that could then be adopted as policy following further consultation.

The proposals come following chaos at the start of this school term when the UK Government had to temporarily abandon attempts to vet all school staff.

Satellite technology is already used in Florida to track paedophiles, and involves offenders wearing an ankle bracelet.

This is similar to tagging but is linked to a computer which tracks movements and sounds an alert when an offender strays.

Mr Letwin is also keen on psychometric testing for everyone seeking work in children's homes and boarding schools.

This would essentially be questionnaires aimed at detecting paedophiles.

Other ideas being proposed by Mr Letwin include increased penalties for paedophiles who refuse to unlock encrypted information being stored on the internet.

Wide review

Organisations say it is all too easy for a paedophile to enter a chatroom, often posing as a teenager, and win a youngster's confidence.

In the past two years, at least 12 children have been sexually assaulted by people who first contacted them via the internet.

A Home Office task force is currently considering new legislation to protect children from paedophiles who try to contact them in person, on the phone or via the internet.

So far the government has not said if or when this might be introduced but it could form part of a much wider review of the laws on sexual offences, which could result in new legislation in the next Parliamentary session.

However, Home Office sources point out the government has set up the Criminal Records Bureau to provide a central register of those considered unsuitable to work with children, and is introducing tougher sentences for paedophiles.

Use of new technology, however, has not been ruled out.

See also:

16 Aug 02 | Politics
19 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
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