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Sex Offenders

Volume 455: debated on Monday 8 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of procedures used to track sex offenders released in the community; and if he will make a statement. (109116)

Protecting the public from the harm caused by sex offenders is a priority for this Government. The means of tackling sex offending are constantly developing, and we work together with the front-line agencies to review their effectiveness and, where necessary, make improvements.

Since the establishment in 1997 of a notification requirement for sex offenders to register with their local police (sex offender registration) there have been a number of major developments in measures to monitor sex offenders in the community. The notification requirements themselves have been strengthened by part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, and in 2001 we introduced statutory multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) across England and Wales to enhance risk assessment and management of serious sexual and violent offenders. Similar arrangements are being introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The MAPPA were further strengthened by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and, in 2005, ViSOR (the violent and sex offender register) was successfully rolled out to the police service with plans to extend to the prison and probation services (local authority criminal justice social work departments in Scotland). ViSOR currently provides a national database of intelligence about the behaviour, residence and identity of sexual offenders and will include violent offenders by December 2007.

The Home Secretary has commissioned a review of the management of child sex offenders in the community, in order to identify additional public protection measures. The review is due to report in the new year.