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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 November 2006, 08:35 GMT
Track sex offenders 'from space'
Sarah Payne
Sarah Payne was murdered by paedophile Roy Whiting
Children's charity Barnardo's is calling on the government to use lie detector tests and satellite tracking to monitor sex offenders.

It claims pilot studies in the UK have shown promising results.

One such trial found up to 80% of cases showed lie detector tests revealed new information about the offenders' intentions or behaviour.

Barnardo's says this helps probation staff assess the risks they pose when they are released from jail better.

All the indications are that polygraphs can be effective in helping control behaviour.
Martin Narey, Barnardo's chief executive

Barnardo's make the claims in its new report, entitled A Risk Too High? which is published on Tuesday.

It also says such measures will be more effective than the introduction of the proposed Sarah's Law, which would allow parents to learn of registered sex offenders living in their area.

This is because it believes such a law would drive sex offenders away from supervision and into hiding.

'False comfort'

This proposed legislation is named after eight-year-old Sarah Payne, who was murdered by paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000.

Barnardo's chief executive Martin Narey said: "Barnardo's is committed to protecting children from harm, but we feel that a Sarah's Law would offer a false comfort to parents and could put children in more, not less, danger.

"That said, the current arrangements for the safe supervision of dangerous offenders need to be strengthened and public confidence restored.

"Our report outlines how the use of polygraphs and satellite tracking could radically improve the effectiveness of supervision.

"All the indications are that polygraphs can be effective in helping control behaviour.

In our view, this kind of measure has more of a headline effect than actually being demonstrated to be genuinely effective

"I have personally seen their use on sex offenders, spoken to the probation staff who have used this technology in a pilot [study] in the North East, and been impressed by the officers' conviction that it significantly improves the rigour of supervision."

But human rights group Justice questioned the effectiveness of lie detector tests.

"We're very doubtful as to any evidence that's been produced to show that it's a reliable method," the group's policy director Eric Metcalfe told BBC News.

"In our view, this kind of measure has more of a headline effect than actually being demonstrated to be genuinely effective."

Resources call

Nacro, the crime reduction charity, said it welcomed the Barnardo's report.

Paul Cavadino, chief executive of Nacro, said: "Introducing a Sarah's Law would increase the risk to children, not reduce it.

"Sex offenders would be more likely to move around, change their names and go underground to avoid being identified.

"This would make it harder to supervise them in treatment programmes.

"Increasing resources for the supervision of sex offenders would protect the public far better than a new law which would undoubtedly damage child protection."

A recent Panorama programme found that paedophiles staying at bail hostels were able to gain access to children, prompting the Home Secretary, John Reid, to order a review into the allegations.

Panorama footage of unsupervised sex offenders

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