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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 09:22 GMT
'Consistency' needed in sex offender care
Dominic McKilligan
Dominic McKilligan murdered Wesley Neailey in 1998
A Newcastle MP has told the House of Commons that a national treatment system for the handling of young sex offenders should be established.

The comments by Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central MP Jim Cousins follow a report which criticised the handling of 18-year-old Dominic McKilligan.

McKilligan was a sex offender who went on to murder 12-year-old Wesley Neailey in Newcastle in 1998.

Mr Cousins said 16 different agencies and 200 staff were involved in the care of McKilligan, but they had failed to agree on a way to co-ordinate his treatment.

There are no consistent standards for care arrangements

Jim Cousins, Newcastle Central MP
Mr Cousins said "There was a failure to share information, and there was conflict between some of the caring agencies.

"There were rows about money and responsibility."

He asked the government to ensure "necessary corrective action" was put in place and called for a national treatment system for young sex offenders.

McKilligan, who is now serving a life sentence for the crime, had been discharged from a North East young offenders' unit.

'Deeply disturbed'

He had been moved to County Durham after being convicted of sex offences in his home town of Bournemouth.

A Serious Case Review carried out by Responsible Area Child Protection committees for Bournemouth, Durham and Newcastle concluded Wesley's death could not have been predicted.

But it also pointed out specific issues that councils needed to address.

Jim Cousins MP
Jim Cousins: "Failure to share information"

Mr Cousins said: "There are no consistent standards for care arrangements for assessment and treatment, for clinical oversight and accountability and for the training of the staff involved."

And he said there was a grave shortage of units for young sex offenders.

"There is no single regulatory inspection system for the units which care for these deeply disturbed people."

He said that if there had been more effective, better-spread provision, Wesley would never have been killed.

Mr Cousins also said all of the caring agencies needed to work together rather than competing against one another

Junior health minister Jacqui Smith said: "A very high standard of assessment, planning, intervention and review was absolutely essential and clearly failed in this case.

"Wesley's death rightly gave rise to very serious questions about how effectively the agencies responsible had worked together to plan and provide his care and treatment.

"Without doubt there are very important lessons to be learned from this case."

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