HC Deb 06 March 2001 vol 364 cc129-30W
Mr. Edwards

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to introduce public notification of sex offenders being released into the community. [151871]

Mr. Charles Clarke

We have no plans to introduce measures which would require the police automatically to inform the public of the identities and addresses of sex offenders. We do not believe that this would enhance our ability to protect children. The police already have powers to inform any individual or organisation about the presence of a dangerous person in the vicinity, if they believe it would be in the interests of the public to do so.

We have, however, introduced a package of measures to improve public protection in the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2001. Those measures build upon arrangements which were already in place and include, among other matters, a specific duty on the police and the probation service to establish local arrangements for assessing and managing the risks posed by sexual and violent offenders and powers to issue guidance to those agencies about the information which they should publish about the arrangements.

Mr. Simon Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to ensure the availability and use of sex offender treatment programmes for offenders convicted of offences relating to the viewing and distributing of child pornography including via the internet; and if he will make a statement. [151622]

Mr. Charles Clarke

Under the Crime Reduction Programme, the Probation Service in England and Wales has been developing three programmes for sex offenders based on evidence of what is known to be effective (the What Works Initiative). The three sex offender programmes will be developed to the standard set by the Joint Prison and Probation Accreditation Panel. Once accredited, they will be rolled out across the Probation Service nationally. The quality of delivery will be audited by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation on behalf of the Accreditation Panel. Implementation of the first programmes to be accredited will begin this summer.

The three sex offender programmes aim to reduce the risk of re-offending by men who have committed any type of sexual offence such as rape, child abuse, viewing and distributing child pomography including via the internet. The programmes take between nine months and two years to complete and accept men on Probation Orders and post-custodial licences, providing the licence is sufficiently long to enable the programme to be completed.

In addition, the Prison Service Sex Offender Treatment Programme is available to men serving a prison sentence for a sexual offence or any offence with a sexual element. Similar treatment methods are used in both the prison and community programmes.