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Friday, May 21, 1999 Published at 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK


UK

Protests over paedophile prison plan

Nottingham Prison has drawn protesters

A dozen people have set up camp outside Nottingham Prison in protest at its plans to house paedophiles who have completed their sentences.

The demonstration follows a Home Office announcement that paedophiles and other high risk offenders may be housed in flats inside prisons to prevent them re-offending.


The BBC's Sarah Sturdey reports on the protest
The aim is to keep a track of offenders still deemed a risk to the public after they have finished serving their sentences.

The government is testing the idea in a pilot project at Nottingham. If successful, it could be extended nationally.

The idea comes after angry demonstrations in other parts of the country over paedophiles being released into the community despite being deemed likely to re-offend.

The protests have taken place outside police stations and other buildings where paedophiles are thought to be living.

Conversion

Nottingham Prison is situated in a residential area and is close to a junior and infants' school and a maternity hospital.


The BBC's Jon Silverman: "This decision met with hostility from the Prison Officers Association"
It is reported that office blocks in the prison are being converted into flats for both serving and former prisoners.

Officials at the prison say the project has been agreed by the Home Office and the prison service, but some details still have to be worked out.

It is thought that former prisoners will be advised that living at the prison could offer them protection from angry members of the public.

They may be asked to sign a tenants' agreement and guards could be assigned to keep an eye on them.


Emma Barnett reports: "Protests against plans that will allow paedophiles to be housed in Nottingham Prison"
Residents may also be escorted in and out of the prison and banned from having guests.

A spokeswoman from the Home Office said: "Office accommodation at HMP Nottingham is in the process of being converted into living accommodation available to house high risk offenders and ex-offenders, anyone who may pose a risk to the community.

"We are still establishing how it is going to operate. The paramount measure is that the public are protected."

Short-term solution

People living in the Nottingham Prison area are opposed to the idea.


[ image: Child abuse: Focus of recent media attention]
Child abuse: Focus of recent media attention
The National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (Nacro) said the plan might work in the short term to aid the resettlement of offenders in the community.

"But it will not work long term. It will be very expensive and not very effective," said a spokesman.

"They will either have to be kept in prison for life or released at some point. They need adequate treatment programmes and work towards resettling them in the community."

He added that there had been a lot of recent legislation focusing on sex offenders, for example, the Sex Offenders Order.

This ensured that sex offenders who had been released into the community could be locked up if they were giving reasonable cause for a caution, for example, if they were hanging around a school.

"This legislation is not very well understood by the public. The danger of these people committing offences is very minor, but public concern is very understandable," said the spokesman.





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