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Calm urged over paedophile fears

1 June 07 17:43 GMT

The probation service in Kent is trying to calm public fears after the whereabouts of a convicted paedophile were published in a national newspaper.

Robert Oliver, 52, is being housed in Maidstone after police had to escort him from a home in Somerset in December when a protest sprang up outside.

Two mothers in the town have started a petition, and written to their MP demanding Mr Oliver be re-housed.

Kent Probation Area said it was keen to discuss the women's concerns.

Mr Oliver was part of an east London paedophile gang responsible for killing 14-year-old Jason Swift in 1985.

Outside supervision

He was released from prison in 1997 after serving two-thirds of a 15-year sentence.

He was moved on from a bail hostel in Bristol last May, before also having to leave the Somerset village of Bishops Lydeard seven months later.

Now Mr Oliver's presence in Maidstone is causing concern for parents Dione McCormack and Laura Bennett.

Ms McCormack said: "As a mother-of-two I fear for my children's safety, and other children that live within the vicinity of where he's living.

"I understand he has served his time and that he has got to be placed somewhere.

"But why do they constantly have to place a man such as him close to schools and children?"

A statement from the Kent Probation Area said: "As a result of Robert Oliver being forced to leave his home in Avon and Somerset, we responded to a national Home Office request and agreed to offer him secure temporary accommodation, under multi-agency public protection arrangements, while more permanent accommodation is sought.

"We accepted him... on condition that he does not leave the premises unsupervised."

The service's chief officer, Hilary James, said she would meet Ms McCormack and Ms Bennett to explain how the public was protected in such circumstances.

Their MP Ann Widdecombe said: "I understand exactly what their anxieties are but you have to see the bigger picture, which is simply that it is essential we know where these people are.

"If every time they go somewhere it's revealed in a newspaper and they're hounded out by the local populous, then they'll disappear underground and that will be much more dangerous for the children concerned.

"It's a question of restraint for the greater good."

In December, Avon and Somerset Police said Mr Oliver was a free man who was "fully co-operating" with protocol.

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