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Sunday, 10 June, 2001, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK

Blunkett reviews paedophile lists

New Home Secretary David Blunkett says he will look at allowing some controlled public access to information about paedophiles and other sex offenders.

" The differences across police areas in crime detection, clear-up rates and in cutting bureaucratic administration are simply unacceptable "
David Blunkett

He made the announcement in an article for the News of the World, which campaigned for public registers after the murder of schoolgirl Sarah Payne.

Mr Blunkett, who is reported as saying privately that he will make former Home Secretary Jack Straw "look like a liberal", has set to work quickly in his new job.

Among the raft of plans he has already unveiled are a shake-up in the UK's work permit system to allow more legal immigration and a new standards unit to improve police performance.

Paedophile crackdown

In his newspaper article, Mr Blunkett said: "As the prime minister promised, I will be looking very hard to see what more could be done to protect our children.

"As part of that exercise, I will look at all the proposals put forward, including the possibility of controlled access to information about sex offenders."

The government has been urged to allow such access so people, especially parents, know if they are sex offenders living in their area.

Senior police officers have expressed concern that such a move would only drive such offenders underground.

During the election campaign, Labour were keen to highlight their plans to stop paedophiles preying on youngsters through the internet.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats attacked the government for not acting sooner.

Green cards

Home Office matters are expected to feature highly in the Queen's Speech, scheduled for 20 June.

Mr Blunkett has suggested a US-style green card system could be introduced in the UK to combat skills shortages.

The new Home Secretary said: "Protecting communities and vulnerable individuals from the evils of so-called gang masters who trade in illegal immigration will also be a priority."

A Home Office spokeswoman said the changes would lead to a growth in the number of legal immigrants while reducing the lure of illegal immigration.

There would be a limit on numbers but the details have yet to be hammered out.

Responsibility for work permits, as well as for heading the battle against drugs, has moved from Mr Blunkett's old department as part of Tony Blair's Whitehall shake-up.

Unacceptable differences

One of Mr Blunkett's first actions on arriving in government in 1997 was to set up a standards unit for schools.

Now he wants to do the same to improve the performance of police authorities by ensuring a consistent approach and encouraging sharing of the best tactics.

"The differences across police areas in crime detection, clear-up rates and in cutting bureaucratic administration are simply unacceptable," said Mr Blunkett.

Enormous job

He told BBC News there was an "enormous amount to be done" in his new job but he expected to have made some progress "over the next couple of years".

The announcements came as Mr Blunkett moved to stamp his mark on the Home Office on his second day in charge.

On Saturday, he talked of mobilising communities to help cut crime and said violent crime and drug trafficking would be particular priorities.

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