HC Deb 06 December 1999 vol 340 c552
12. Ms Margaret Moran (Luton, South)

What steps the Government are taking to ensure that (a) children and (b) other members of the public are protected from sex offenders. [99687]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Paul Boateng)

The Government are committed to protecting children and others from sex offenders. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 contained strong additional safeguards in the new sex offender orders and extended supervision provisions. This Session, as part of the crime and public protection Bill, we are bringing forward proposals for a scheme to prevent unsuitable people, including sex offenders, from working with children.

Ms Moran

I welcome the measures that my right hon. Friend outlined to give priority to public protection from sex offenders—in sharp contrast to the Opposition, who did not consider the issue sufficiently serious to include it among their so-called guarantees. Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is still considerable concern about the low number of prosecutions of sex offenders in cases in which the victims are children of five and under or adults with mental incapacities? What additional protections does he propose to introduce to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected?

Mr. Boateng

My hon. Friend has a track record of concern and action in relation to the protection of very young children from such sex predators. We look to the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 to provide a range of additional safeguards for children and young people, to ensure that the court has the opportunity to receive the best evidence from them. It is vital that the courts, the Crown Prosecution Service and Victim Support work together to ensure that those wicked people are brought to justice and that our children are properly protected.