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The BBC's Emma Howard
"The campaign has boosted sales but has as many critics as supporters"
 real 56k

Saturday, 29 July, 2000, 17:38 GMT 18:38 UK
Paper to name more paedophiles
Protesters at a rally in support of publically naming paedophiles
Campaigners want tougher sentencing for child abusers
The News of the World has said it will continue to "name and shame" paedophiles this week despite strong criticism.

Chief police officers, senior politicians and groups representing offenders and children all expressed concern when the paper began its campaign, publishing the names and photographs of 49 sex offenders.

We've gone down the road of soft option and it isn't working

Mothers Against Murder and Aggression
They fear that exposing known paedophiles could drive them underground and increase the risk of them re-offending.

But despite criticism the paper says it plans to print details of 50 more in this Sunday's edition.

The paper's campaign has won the support of Sara and Michael Payne - the parents of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne - who attended a protest rally in London on Saturday.

The body of eight-year-old Sarah was found almost two weeks ago. She had gone missing while playing in fields in West Sussex.

Sarah Payne
Sarah's body was found almost two weeks ago
There are also fears that the publicity will lead to further vigilante attacks on innocent people.

On Friday night a group of around 60 people waving banners and shouting abuse attacked a house in Plymouth, throwing paint at what they had mistaken for the home of a paedophile.

The family inside, including young children, have been moved for their own safety.

Stuart Elford, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "It is always the danger that people can get the wrong identification, the wrong address, and even when they get the right address, if you like, of a known paedophile, they can drive the person underground.

"It is totally contrary to what we want to do, to be able to monitor people."

Last week, an innocent Manchester man was confronted in his home by neighbours who thought he was one of the 49 individuals named in the newspaper.

Norman Brennan, national director of the Victims of Crime Trust, said said the VCT was against the News of the World's campaign.

"Should an innocent member of the public be killed as a result of such action, those responsible for inciting may face murder or manslaughter charges," he added.

Mothers Against Murder

At Saturday's London demonstration, organised by pressure group Mothers Against Murder and Aggression, campaigners signed a petition calling for a change in the law to allow paedophiles to be publicly identified.

Sarah's father, Michael Payne, 31, appealed to Home Secretary Jack Straw "to give everyone the right to know what kind of people are living in their area, and to increase sentences". The protesters also want tougher sentences for those convicted of child abuse - including lifetime imprisonment for child murderers.

Mothers Against Murder and Aggression spokeswoman, Lyn Costello, said present punishments were too lenient: "We've gone down the road of soft option and it isn't working, let's change it," she told the BBC.

Should an innocent member of the public be killed as a result of such action, those responsible for inciting may face murder or manslaughter charges

Victims of Crime Trust
A police register of known sex offenders already exists but only lists those convicted, cautioned or released from prison since September 1997.

The information is confidential and is not generally available to the public but can be accessed by those responsible for children, such as head teachers.

Sarah's mother Sara Payne, 31, appealed to people not to take the law into their own hands.

"Anyone who decides on vigilante action - you are hurting the campaign more... You are teaching kids that violence is OK, and it's not," she said.

The family want to see the introduction of legislation - being called Sarah's Law - which would work in a similar way to Megan's Law in the United States.

The US law is named after Megan Kanka, a seven-year-old who was murdered by a paedophile in 1994, and provides for a register of sex criminals to which the public has access.

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24 Jul 00 | UK
To name and shame
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