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The BBC's Karen Allen
"Residents here say their resolve to evict paedophiles remains strong"
 real 56k

Monday, 14 August, 2000, 01:33 GMT 02:33 UK
Protesters to name 'paedophiles'
protest
Protesters took to the streets every night for a week
Anti-paedophile protesters on Portsmouth's Paulsgrove estate are believed to have compiled a list of 20 alleged sex offenders for the city council.

Community leaders are expected to meet senior officials from Portsmouth City Council on Monday to hand over the list.

The names are understood to have been compiled by alleged victims living on the estate which has seen violent outbursts and demonstrations since the News of the World's name and shame campaign.

The homes and property of suspected sex offenders have been targeted and damaged as "peaceful" protests got out of hand.

Widespread protest

Seven days of protest by families and children ended on Thursday when the council agreed to rehome sex offenders or anyone else who felt threatened.

Five families were scared enough to leave the area.
Police officers guard a home in Portsmouth
Police have been called in to guard homes targeted by the mobs.

Police, politicians and social commentators have called for an end to the vigilante action which has reared its head across the UK.

Talks broke down last week between police, city officials and protesters campaigning to evict a convicted sex offender living on the Southway estate in Plymouth.

Other campaigns are under way in South Wales and a number of people have been attacked after being wrongly identified as child abusers.

The News of the World has been blamed for the protests since it named 200 sex offenders in the wake of the murder of eight-year-old school girl Sarah Payne.

The paper is now campaigning for a so-called "Sarah's Law" to open up the sex offenders' register to public scrutiny and has the backing of the girl's parents Michael and Sara Payne.

The resort to the rule of the mob is absolutely wrong

Tory leader William Hague

But the Paynes and the paper's editor Rebekah Wade have appealed for an end to the violence.

Ms Wade said she was aware the paper's original campaign of naming and shaming sex offenders might provoke "some passionate reaction".

But in a letter to readers, published on Sunday, she said: "The mindless minority who ruined the peaceful protests by the parents of Paulsgrove deserve only contempt.

"But it is an unfortunate fact that, pushed to the extreme, otherwise reasonable citizens are forced into vigilante action."

Call for calm

Tory leader William Hague called for the extension of life sentences for child sex offenders in the wake of the wave of public anger over Sarah's murder.

He called on the government to consider a raft of changes, including automatic life sentences for some repeat offenders, but strongly condemned the protests.

"However strong and understandable the emotions of those parents on the Portsmouth housing estate are, the resort to the rule of the mob is absolutely wrong, " he wrote in the Sunday Times.

"Once you start down the route of mob rule, then we no longer live in a country that can call itself civilised."

Home Office minister Barbara Roche called for a period of calm to allow the successful completion of a review of the operation of the sex offenders' register, launched in June before Sarah's murder and due to report in December.

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