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Monday, 7 August, 2000, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Police condemn 'paedophile' attacks
Burnt-out car
A car set alight by protesters is removed by workmen
Police in Hampshire have appealed for calm after more violence outside the home of a suspected sex offender in Portsmouth.

Police arrested 12 people on public order offences after a series of disturbances against alleged sex offenders on Sunday.

In one incident, around 200 protesters targeted an address on Lowestoft Road on Portsmouth's Paulsgrove estate.

We can have an informed and intellectual debate, but you can't do that at the end of a house brick

Deputy Chief Constable Ian Reedhead
The house was damaged and a car belonging to one of the residents was overturned.

Fifty officers from Hampshire Police were drafted in to deal with the mob and forced to take "robust" action to clear the road as they evacuated the residents under threat.

The trouble comes days after a 150-strong mob rioted outside the home of a known sex-offender in the same area of Portsmouth.

He had been "named and shamed" by the News of the World's campaign against paedophiles.

Deputy chief constable of Hampshire Police, Ian Reedhead, said violent protests would not solve the situation.

No solution

"We can have an informed and intellectual debate, but you can't do that at the end of a house brick," he said.

"It is one thing to talk about access to information.

"But once you make it general in nature then unfortunately it won't be the mums and dads who are concerned about their children's safety who have access.

"It will a much wider community, some of whom are prepared to take vigilante action."

Police officers
Police guard the flat of the suspected sex offender
The News of the World announced on Friday that it is ending its controversial "naming and shaming" policy of publishing the photographs and locations of child sex offenders.

The paper stopped identifying paedophiles after reaching an agreement with police and other agencies to work jointly towards a change in the law.

But the paper - backed by the family of Sarah Payne - still says parents have a right to know if they are living near someone who is a threat to their children.

In the United States, parents have the right to information on the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders under "Megan's Law", introduced after the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl.

The paper wants its suggestions for "Sarah's Law" - planned in conjunction with the child protection agency the NSPCC, the police and the probation service - to come into force by the end of the year.

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07 Aug 00 | Talking Point
Has naming and shaming gone too far?
24 Jul 00 | UK
To name and shame
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