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Thursday, August 13, 1998 Published at 07:05 GMT 08:05 UK


Probation officers want end to paedophile 'hysteria'

Sidney Cooke's release received much media attention

Probation bosses are calling for action over the "public hysteria" created by newspapers over the release of sex offenders.

Danny Shaw reports on the probation officers' concerns
The Association of Chief Officers of Probation wants the Press Complaints Commission to deal with reports which it says "create mayhem" and undermine their work.

Since September released paedophiles have had to sign a register stating where they are staying, allowing police to monitor them.

But several newspapers have published details of their location, fuelling public concern over the issue and in some cases driving offenders underground and away from supervision.

In several cases people mistaken for paedophiles have been attacked.

Sidney Cooke fury

[ image: Sidney Cooke's movements were closely detailed]
Sidney Cooke's movements were closely detailed
At a meeting with the PCC next week, probation officers will ask for ground rules to be established to protect the system.

The most controversial release since the register was introduced involved Sidney Cooke, the 71-year-old killer and paedophile.

His release in April was met with protests and violence in areas where he considered living. He was moved several times before he could safely leave police care.

On Wednesday the Home Office was reported to be considering creating centres for freed paedophiles, following difficulties in housing many offenders.

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