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EDITIONS
Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Public to help manage sex offenders
Sara and Michael Payne
The Paynes wanted public access to the register
Members of the public are to help manage paedophiles in the community, under plans to be unveiled by Home Secretary David Blunkett.

Community representatives will be recruited to sit on multi-agency public protection panels in 42 areas covering England and Wales.

Sarah Payne
Sarah Payne's murder shocked the nation
Mr Blunkett first disclosed the proposal last year, in response to concerns raised by the parents of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne.

And the home secretary is expected to make the detailed announcement next week, with recruitment beginning at the end of the month.

Two lay people on each panel will communicate any public concerns about sex and violent offenders to the rest of the panel, made up of professional probation and police officers.

Their role includes the scrutiny of the criminal justice professionals and trying to improve public protection where possible.

The lay members are likely to have experience of community work and maybe child protection.

They will not be given identities or addresses of offenders, only backgound information on their criminal record and their estimated risk.

Vigilantes

A Home Office spokesman refused to confirm a report in The Independent, which said an announcement would be made next week and advertisements for recruits placed later this month.

David Blunkett
Blunkett has tried to address public concern
The spokesman said Mr Blunkett made clear last year that he wanted properly trained members of the public to have a say in how sex offenders are managed.

And details of how the panels would work would be announced "shortly", he added.

Sarah's killing in July 2000 provoked a public outcry and the News of the World, backed by the Paynes, led a campaign for public access to the Sex Offenders' Register.

The government, on the advice of the police, resisted this option because they feared it could increase vigilantes and drive offenders out of the reach of professionals.

But they met the Paynes to try and address their concerns, and this was one of the ideas to emerge.

In a separate development, the National Probation Service is expected to publish the numbers of dangerous offenders in each of its 42 districts in its first annual report next month.

See also:

30 Apr 02 | N Ireland
22 Feb 02 | UK
18 Dec 01 | England
18 Dec 01 | UK
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