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Sunday, 5 August, 2001, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Paulsgrove: shedding an unwanted image
A blunt balcony message in Paulsgrove
Paulsgrove: got the message?

If you took seriously the treatment some newspapers gave to Portsmouth's Paulsgrove estate last year - a place full of hamburgers, cigarettes and tattoos, one paper called it - you would be very surprised to see it for real.

It's a tidy estate of tended gardens, home improvements and polished cars. It's certainly not a run down, inner city dumping ground, the way it appeared last August. But a week of demonstrations and riots can make anywhere look undesirable.

Sixty percent of the people in Paulsgrove own their own homes, but it was built as a council estate and there is still a lot of social housing.

Single mothers

That's where they send the single mothers, says local councillor Jim Patey, women with family problems of their own.

It's got a bad name for itself. But you get paedophiles all over the country, not just here, like people think

Susan Roux, Paulsgrove Residents' Association
It was the wrong place to put registered sex offenders and he's sure the paedophiles have all gone elsewhere in the city.

But Susan Roux, who is on the estate's Residents' Association says the reputation is hard to shake off... and based on misunderstanding: "It's got a bad name for itself. But you get paedophiles all over the country, not just here, like people think."

Matt Roper is deputy news editor at The News, Portsmouth's daily paper. The past year has helped Paulsgrove solve some of its problems, but rehousing paedophiles was never one of them anyway, says Matt.

Tighter controls

The call for a Sarah's law that was behind the name and shame campaign, to make the whereabouts of sex offenders public after eight-year-old Sarah Payne was murdered in nearby
Demonstrators on the streets of Paulsgrove
Protestors spell out their message
West Sussex, led to some new police powers and a recent Green Paper on tighter controls. But it's made no difference locally.

Those who led the demonstrations don't want to talk about it, because their neighbours are angry that they've made Paulsgrove and paedophiles synonymous for a long time to come.

Paulsgrove taught us almost nothing about the problem of paedophilia. But as other areas of Britain cope with the aftermath of anger, alienation and rioting this summer, how Paulsgrove has dealt with that is a more valuable lesson.

Dan Damon reports on Paulsgrove one year on

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