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Stretched police unable to check on the homes of known paedophiles and sexual predators

(Getty Images/iStock)
(Getty Images/iStock)

POLICE will not carry out regular checks on where sex offenders are living, despite experts calling for yearly inspections, we can reveal.

Ministers have rejected a recommendation to introduce annual inspections on the addresses of every convicted paedophile and sexual predator to ensure vulnerable people are not living nearby.

Experts had called for yearly checks after a four-year-old boy in Glasgow was raped by a neighbour with previous convictions.

But the proposed visits have been scrapped as police struggle to cope with a rising number of registered sex offenders.

Campaigner Margaret-Ann Cummings – whose eight-year-old son Mark was killed by a convicted paedophile in Glasgow in 2004 – accused Justice Secretary Michael Matheson of a “dereliction of public duty”.

She said: “It makes me angry and frustrated to see the lessons of the past being ignored once more.

“Despite clear evidence of the terrible things that can happen when you skimp on these checks, the system is being deliberately watered down.”


Unchecked? Three out of thousands

STEVEN STALLEY
Cleared of raping a 14-year-old girl in 2014 but three years later, he was back in court for grooming another youngster. Stalley, 28, from Paisley, was
given a Community Payback Order.

STEPHEN KAY
Serving seven months for repeatedly exposing himself to children. Ex-submariner Kay was jailed for seven months after a sheriff heard he has a lengthy record of similar offences.

ANTONIUS VAN HESTEREN
Jailed for 23 months after he was snared in a police sting in 2015. He arranged to visit an officer believing she was a young girl. The 70-year-old has previous for downloading child abuse.


Daniel Johnson, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, called for the decision on sex offenders’ Environmental Risk Assessments to be reviewed.

The importance of an initial ERA was underlined by the murders of single mum Diane Fallon, 43, and her 10-year-old daughter Holly in 2009.

They were battered, raped and tortured by ex-soldier Thomas Smith, 25, who befriended them after moving into the same block of flats in Cronberry, Ayrshire, despite having just served a jail term for indecent assaults against children.

Strathclyde Police later apologised for failing to run checks.

The same force was accused after George Cameron, 68, a serial paedophile was housed in a flat in Toryglen, Glasgow. No assessment was done on the property and, when a young couple was allocated a neighbouring apartment, he spent three years gaining their trust before raping their four-year-old son in 2012.

An expert report into the crime, published a year later, made a series of recommendations to tighten up the monitoring of sex offenders, including that their accommodation should be assessed annually.

At the time, Mr Matheson’s predecessor, Kenny MacAskill, appeared to back the recommendation. He said: “The Scottish Government will ensure that any lessons from this case are shared more widely in other parts of the country.”

But now ministers have published fresh guidance which fails to impose annual checks on the accommodation of sex offenders. Assessment will continue to be carried out for offenders freshly released or convicted and when they move house.

But, from now on, only those who are deemed to be a raised risk – just over one in 10 – plus those guilty of so-called contact crimes against children and vulnerable adults – also a minority – will have their addresses continually assessed.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said: “For the latest guidance to exclude so many offenders from annual reviews of accommodation will worry victims and communities.”

Police Scotland backed the reforms.

Detective Superintendent Gail Johnston, of the National Offender Management Unit, said: “A risk and victim-based approach ensures each registered offender is appropriately managed with the focus on those posing the greatest risk of harm to our communities.”

The Scottish Government said: “The monitoring of registered sex offenders in Scotland is more stringent than ever before and the vast majority do not re-offend.

“We are committed to maintaining a robust offender management framework that continues to protect the rights of everyone to go about their lives safely.”