Rapist 'told police' about care home plan

COUNCIL chiefs who spent �500,000 buying and converting a house for a new children's home only became aware the building was next door to a convicted rapist after the sex offender himself told police, it has emerged.

Laurence Cawley

COUNCIL chiefs who spent �500,000 buying and converting a house for a new children's home only became aware the building was next door to a convicted rapist after the sex offender himself told police, it has emerged.

Yesterday the EADT revealed how Suffolk County Council abruptly stopped building work on a five-bedroom house near Bury St Edmunds after it became known the neighbour had recently been released from jail. He had served six years of a ten-year prison term for two rapes and a string of indecent assaults.

Last night it emerged not only had the council's own checks on the property, which did not involve speaking to the police, failed to highlight his presence - but also that the police only became aware of the council's plans after they were informed by the sex offender himself.


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The council said it had learned “an important lesson'' and would review its procedures.

A confidential briefing document to councillors and some staff, which has been seen by the EADT, says the rapist had told county council staff - unaware of his previous history at the time - how he was looking forward to the home opening next door, and how he was hoping to build a positive relationship with the staff and young people.

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In the briefing document, Head of Child Protection, Cliff James, says that the council were made aware of the situation last week.

It was only by chance that the man told the police officer managing his case about the plans for a children's home next door to his house. It was then that the county council was informed.

Mr James says: “The (police) officer managing his case advised us that whilst he is considered a relatively low risk, by virtue of being level one, the police feel that it would not be possible for them to safely manage him with a children's home being sited next door.''

Mr James says that, because the man is a level one sex offender, he “is not managed on a multi-agency basis in the same way as level two and three offenders are.''

In cases like this, he says, “the police have sole responsibility to disclose information on a need to know basis.''

Mr James adds that the normal searches were carried out during the purchasing process, but such checks did not normally involve contacting the police.

The convicted rapist was spoken to by county council staff, during “routine consultation'' with neighbours, but did not tell them about his criminal record.

However, Mr James says that the sex offender “did say how he and his wife were looking forward to the home moving in next door and building a positive relationship with the staff and young people. Given the information we now know about him this is of concern.''

In his briefing document, Mr James admits that “it is fully recognised that it will be essential to review and strengthen our processes for undertaking local checks with the police and other partners at a much earlier stage in the planning process to identify any potential risks or concerns regarding building projects for children and vulnerable adults.''

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