Front Page

UK

World

Business

Sci/Tech

Sport

Despatches

World News in Audio


On Air

Cantonese

Talking Point

Feedback

Low Graphics

Help

Site Map

Friday, March 13, 1998 Published at 07:59 GMT



UK

Fears over release of paedophiles

Police and the probation service are demanding a change in the law to help deal with six dangerous paedophiles, due for release from prison.

The men fall through loopholes in the law as they are considered so dangerous, they are denied parole - which would mean their release under supervision.


[ image: Police have no powers of supervision over the men]
Police have no powers of supervision over the men
Also, because they were jailed before the 1991 Criminal Justice Act, no powers exist to order supervision once they have served their terms.

Police chiefs are demanding changes to the law to allow such men to be held under the Mental Health Act.

That would enable them to be detained in a special hospital indefinitely.


[ image: Police struggled to cope with the release of Robert Oliver]
Police struggled to cope with the release of Robert Oliver
The warning comes as detectives revealed how they struggled to cope with the release last September of child killer Robert Oliver, one of a gang which abducted, raped and killed 14-year-old rent boy Jason Swift.

Oliver and his accomplices were initially charged with murder but convicted of manslaughter. They are suspected of at least two other paedophile murders.

Police mounted round-the-clock surveillance on Oliver after his release, observing him visit a children's library and watching youngsters in Brighton amusement arcades - lawful activities they were powerless to prevent.

As controversy surrounding his freedom grew, Oliver - judged to be a "sexual deviant with a personality disorder" - asked police for protection and spent four months living in a police station.

Struggle to find accommodation


Penny Buller interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme (2'35")
East Sussex chief probation officer, Penny Buller, says she spent four months trying to find somewhere to put Oliver after he asked for protection.

Finally, in February, a bed was found for him at a private medium-secure unit for mentally disordered offenders in Milton Keynes.


[ image: Police say dangerous gaps exist in the law]
Police say dangerous gaps exist in the law
The probation officer warned the episode would be repeated with other dangerous sex offenders.

The Home Office has said there are 150 more cases of sexual offenders facing release without supervision.

"They are not all as notorious and as dangerous as Robert Oliver, but about half-a-dozen of them are," said Penny Buller.

The six other paedophiles due for release over the next two years include Sidney Cooke, a member of Oliver's gang.


[ image: Convicted paedophile Sidney Cooke: due for release]
Convicted paedophile Sidney Cooke: due for release
He is due to leave prison next month after serving 11 years of a 19-year term.

The Chief Constable of Sussex, Paul Whitehouse, said there were dangerous gaps in the law.

"If you have a personality disorder, which to the layman appears to be no different to being mentally ill, then you can't be sectioned.

"If the Mental Health Act was altered to include people with a personality disorder then that could well be the solution."

Probation officers also want to see such loopholes closed, extra money put into treatment and supervision, and electronic tagging to make sure sex offenders obey curfews.
 





Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage

©

Link to BBC Homepage

  Relevant Stories

02 Mar 98 | UK
Paedophiles 'must be tolerated'

17 Feb 98 | UK
New child abuse prevention plans

21 Jan 98 | UK
Child abuse hearing enters second year

22 Nov 97 | UK
School takes action on child porn

05 Nov 97 | UK
Playground ban proposed for paedophiles

27 Oct 97 | UK
Children's charity urges ban on paedophile novel

 
In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online





UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
England