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Saturday, 12 August, 2000, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
No paedophile list access
The News of the World
News of the World started campaign after Sarah's death
Unrestricted access to the child sex offenders' register will not to be made available to the public despite a campaign by a Sunday newspaper, the Home Office has said.

The News of the World wants parents to have the right to information on the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders, following the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne.

But any increased access to the register would only be permitted on a "controlled" basis, Home Office minister Barbara Roche told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday.

Barbara Roche
Barbara Roche has called for calm over paedophiles
She said the government refused to be pressurised into allowing people to see the register, or be rushed in its current review of how it works.

"What we are talking about is controlled access (to the register)," she said.

"It must come from the police and the probation service. We are not going to be rushed into this. We need to do it properly."

She called for a period of calm and quiet discussion on the issue of child sex offenders and warned that public demonstrations could drive paedophiles underground.

"The key thing is how best we can protect all our children," she said.

"We must make sure the police and probation service keep tabs on paedophiles and that they know where they are."

Campaign dropped

The review of the register, involving representatives of children's organisations as well as police and probation officers, will be followed by a period of public consultation, she added.

The News of the World launched a controversial "naming and shaming" policy of publishing the photographs and locations of child sex offenders after Sarah's murder.

Its campaign has prompted a wave of protests across the country against people named in the paper.

Innocent members of the public have also been mistakenly targeted.

Sarah Payne
Sarah Payne disappeared while playing
The paper stopped the campaign last week after reaching an agreement with police and other agencies to work jointly towards a change in the law.

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

Mrs Roche said that the government had welcomed the decision to end the campaign.

"We made it very clear from the beginning we thought it was the wrong course of action," she said.

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.

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