County has 600 sex offenders

MORE than 600 registered sex offenders are living in the county of Essex, new figures have revealed.And in answer to calls for a “Sarah's law” after the murder of schoolgirl Sarah Payne, the county's Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) has taken on two lay advisors to monitor and advise it.

MORE than 600 registered sex offenders are living in the county of Essex, new figures have revealed.

And in answer to calls for a “Sarah's law” after the murder of schoolgirl Sarah Payne, the county's Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) has taken on two lay advisors to monitor and advise it.

MAPPA, which published its annual report Planning to Protect yesterday, exists to ensure a whole host of different public bodies exchange information about known offenders in the community.

It focuses on sex offences, domestic and other violent crimes in which parole has been granted but concern still remains about the possibility of re-offending.


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This information is brought together and used to monitor and manage offenders' behaviour, and if necessary, return them to jail.

MAPPA also liaises with victims of crime to ensure they know what action is being taken to keep them safe once an offender is released.

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Statutory bodies contributing to MAPPA include the police, the probation service, the prison service and other public organisations involved with issues such as housing and health.

In MAPPA's report, it was revealed that in March 2005 there were 680 sexual offenders living in Essex.

This was a rise from 542 at the same time the previous year but was expected, as the number goes up every time someone is added to the list and a wider number of offences now require offenders to be placed on the register.

Yesterday, MAPPA lay advisor and retired businessman John Downing explained that he, along with his colleague John Blaize, an Essex magistrate, had been appointed after calls for “Sarah's law” to be implemented.

The original model for “Sarah's law” was the American “Megan's Law,” which led to known paedophiles and sex offenders being identified to the communities in which they lived.

It was called for by Sara Payne after her daughter was murdered by paedophile Roy Whiting.

Mr Downing said: “She initially wanted a similar law in the UK, but the professionals felt all that would do would be to drive paedophiles underground - and I must admit I subscribe to that view.

“MAPPA knows who these people are, and how to manage them.

“We are appointed by the Home Office and are independent so that MAPPA can be seen to be transparent and so there is involvement from the public.”

He added: “We are very pleased with the way MAPPA operates in Essex. We are convinced the reduction of risk to the public is as good as it can be.”

Alex Bamber, assistant chief officer of Essex Probation Service, said: “There are sex offenders and violent offenders in the community.

“It is important for people to know there are agencies around to mange those offenders and mechanisms to cope with their behaviour, and stop them being able to re-offend.

“The whole idea of having lay advisors was having them able to ask questions and observe as members of the public.”

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