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I disagree with this law on principle. If an offender remains dangerous, they ought not to be free. If they are not, they ought not to be treated differently from anyone else who has completed a prison term. Half measures like the sex offender list and "Megan's law" just turn the whole country into a half-hearted open prison.

What do people think of chemical castration for sex offenders?

David Davis is completely correct about this, if the law was "imported" people on the list would be discriminated against hugely by the community they lived in. Lynchings admittedly probably wouldn't happen, but how many paedophiles aren't going to become depressed and possibly commit suicide after their houses are continually vandalised, they are banned from their local shop for "the children's sake" and are generally persecuted by the whole community, despite having paid their debt to society. Also, as Julian says, if they have been released they shouldn't be posing a threat to anyone as they should have been rehabilitated.

The Sex Offenders' Register should only include the most dangerous people who, while no longer deemed to be a risk to society (if they were they would have to be kept in prison) committed such serious crimes that they should be on a publicly accessible register. Minor offences should not lead to a place on the Register and the scenes in Portsmouth a few years ago must be avoided (these included a mob going after someone with the same name as a paedophile waving a placard reading "hang them, not house them"). The key reform though must be to make life mean life. I have never understood the discounting process in sentencing although I can see an argument for plea bargaining to shorten sentences.

Donal, The only half reasoned explanation I've heard for life not meaning life is that as soon as you remove the incentive for good behaviour (earlier release), then whats to stop a lifer from running riot in the prison, its not as if an extra year after you stabbed a guard is going to make a difference if you're not leaving prison except when you're dead anyway.

Of course, there are many good reasons why life should mean life, and perhaps the point I raise above, simply highlights how our prison system is still in need of improvement.

This is the action of a bankrupt Home Office desperate to gain popular approval. It is a government yet again selling-out in order to save its own skin. Mob rule is not what Britain is about.

CCHQ Spy: I think it's a stupid idea, except as a psychiatric treatment under medical advice and in response to an identified dnger. A lot of "sex offenders" are people who went a little far, or had a lapse of self-control, and are paying for it. They ought not to get off lightly, but a very large number of them are totally harmless in future and ought neither to be registered, nor to be mutilated by law (chemically or otherwise).

Hear ,hear Mark Fulford.

Sex offenders are often mentally ill. Treatment should be in the old fashioned asylum, or mental hospital. The worst offenders would need to be detained in one of these for life.
Bring back asylums!

This is an utterly cynical move from a bankrupt government.

It is a sorry state of affairs, when the tabloid press get excited about such trivial window-dressing.

Child sex offenders should be spending decades locked up in prisons. Prisons where they don't get to read pornography (because of the Human Rights Act) but have to work constructively each day.

I don't like Megan's law and the very real chance of mob rule, but I don't blame the mob when our government and courts can't hand out justice.

If I was a parent I'd certainly want to know if there were any paedophiles nearby.

"Lynchings admittedly probably wouldn't happen, but how many paedophiles aren't going to become depressed and possibly commit suicide after their houses are continually vandalised, they are banned from their local shop for "the children's sake" and are generally persecuted by the whole community, despite having paid their debt to society."

Well, maybe they should have thought about that before sexually offending!

I know it's easy to criticise pandering to "tabloid populism" (and I love the episode of Brass Eye regarding this) but that doesn't automatically make this populism wrong.

When it comes to law and order the British public tend to be conservative and, dare I say it, reactionary. Therefore we would be more in touch with the views of Modern Britain if we were to take a "populist" line on this issue. However, I've noticed that the modernisers who always emphasise the need to be in touch suddenly go strange when it comes to issues where traditional Tory policies are popular. All of a sudden we mustn't be in touch, we must "avoid pandering to tabloid populism". If the traditionalists are prepared to compromise and accept change in certain areas, why can't the modernisers compromise accept the maintenance of our traditional approach in others?

I would like to add my voice to those above who believe major sex offenders would be better off locked up. Those who commit sexual offences against children have declared themselves outside the realms of normal humanity and should therefore not expect to be treated like normal humans. This isn't a call for them to be tortured or experimented on (an uncivilised idea that should remain confined to far-right circles) but for them to be kept out of society forever or until they are too old to be a threat.

As a parent of young children, part of me feels that I would like to know if there is a paedophile living next door, but as I have written on my blog I would be more interested to know if he is still a danger why is he not in jail?

Using a subject as emotive as this for political ends needs to be exposed for what it is. Cynical and weak.

I'm with you James.

All I care about their address is that it begins with 'HMP'.

Since most (80-90% I think I am right in saying) offences of this nature occur within the family, we are seeing another example of a policy being formed through reactionary tabloid nonsense, rather than logical thinking.

I think Julian hit the nail on the head, if you release someone, you have to give them some freedom, or you may as well not release them at all.

I agreed with David Davis.....until I read Chris' post at 08:35 about pedophiles being persecuted, depressed and banned from the village shop. At that point I realised how litle sympathy I have for child abusers!

P.S. Does anyone know if there actually were lnych mobs in the USA after Megans Law?

Jon, I don't have sympathy for child abusers I simply believe that after someone has supposedly paid their debt to society they don't deserve to be continually persecuted for it. If they are still a threat to the public, and therefore should not be near children, they should as many have said still be locked up.

Jon, Chris

I think the point is simple. If they are not thought of as a threat (by the home office) they should be given the chance to live a normal life, under observation by the appropriate authority. Inviting street justice as we saw with the paediatrician in Wales is wrong.

If they are still a threat they should not be released.

A Sarah's law is the worst of both options, releasing dangerous people into the community and then setting the local population onto them.

"How many paedophiles aren't going to become depressed and possibly commit suicide after their houses are continually vandalised, they are banned from their local shop for "the children's sake" and are generally persecuted by the whole community, despite having paid their debt to society."

Diddums. I think we've lost sight of what's important here. Forgive this Helen Lovejoy moment, but instead of wringing our hands about possible psychological effects on paedophiles, we should remember who the real victims are in these cases - the innocent, vulnerable children that fall prey to such people - and think about the indelible psychological trauma visited upon them by the vile acts of depravity committed by the likes of Craig Sweeney.

Our party has the right idea. Scrap ID cards, and start building prisons the moment we get back into power. Enough places mean it would be more than possible to treat and ???rehabilitate these people. There is a prison medical service already. It can be enlarged/updated as needed.

If the criminally insane/psychopathic/amoral/are safely locked up, they would not actually be any worse off then they would have been if they were committed to one of the old lock up "big bins". Modern day treatment would be better, and there wouldnt be any loopy pschiatrists letting them out while they were still a danger.

Add to that a sensible sentencing regime, with life meaning life in the case of very dangerous individuals, and we and our children and grandchildren may be able to sleep a little more easily at nights.

Diddums. I think we've lost sight of what's important here. Forgive this Helen Lovejoy moment, but instead of wringing our hands about possible psychological effects on paedophiles, we should remember who the real victims are in these cases - the innocent, vulnerable children that fall prey to such people - and think about the indelible psychological trauma visited upon them by the vile acts of depravity committed by the likes of Craig Sweeney.
Daniel, since when though has it been the job of individuals to punish those who do wrong as opposed to the state? I've said it repeatedly, i don't care about the sick people who have carried out these crimes, i do however think that the are entitled to the same rights as any other citizen.

Diddums. I think we've lost sight of what's important here.

Society has to provide space for people to live – even for the least savoury characters. Signposts to convicted paedophiles would remove that space.

Megan's Law is too blunt, unable to deal with variation in severity. An effective criminal justice system should be able to deal with criminals without resorting to mobs.

"Daniel, since when though has it been the job of individuals to punish those who do wrong as opposed to the state?"

Don't get me wrong - I'm not calling for lynch mob justice, I just felt that, in the rush to express concern for the physical and psychological well-being of paedophiles, the real victims were being forgotten.

I remain open-minded about the possible introduction of a Megan/Sarah's Law (although this move by Dr Reid does strike me as kneejerk populism), albeit with certain safeguards (a 'signpost to convicted paedophiles', as Mark Fulford calls it, would clearly be inappropriate) and assurances that the cost of such safeguards (e.g. police protection) would not be too prohibitive.

Its no ones business whos commited what crime and where they live. Everyone has a right to privacy if they have served their time. This would surely lead to mob rule, and no doubt innocent people getting caught up in it all.

Why do we need to release names of convicted pervs if they have been released prison? Surely if someone if released they should no longer pose a threat to the public.

I say keep em locked up for much much longer than these 18month sentances being handed down. This way we can all live happily and surely avoid the inevitable persecution that will rear its ugly head.

I've just listened to the World at One and Downing Street appear to be emphasising that there are big practical difficulties with importing Megan's Law into Britain. The Sun won't like being marched to the top of the hill by John Reid only to retreat down again later. I presume The Sun and News of the World wrote what they did because John Reid assured them that he would deliver a Sarah's Law... or have Britain's top-selling newspapers been over-spun?

...big practical difficulties...

... such as there being absolutely no way for Labour to get this past their own back benches without the help of Conservatives - which won't be forthcoming.

The Labour media machine (once so slick) is now all over the place.

If the government does not now go forward with this the Sun will be all over them.

We must resist the temptation of jumping on any tabloid bandwagon in this area, there in lies the road to perdition.

We've long since known that this is the most cynical, manipulative and unscrupulous government we've ever been afficted with, but I suspect we will now see them plumb new depths. They were cynical and populist even when they were cruising to victory. Now they're facing a real threat, I suspect we will see more and more of these sort of headline grabbing stunts. I hope we have the good sense to rise above it all.

Rather than 'rising above it all'Gareth we need to argue our case with conviction and skill, otherwise we'll get slaughtered by the Sun and others.
People must understand that a potential Conservative government will do what it says it is going to do.

As someone who is presumably familiar with this area of law, Gareth, do you think that "Megan's Law" would be a help or a hindrance in dealing with paedophiles?

I've no time at all for this legislation. Either someone is a danger to society and they should be kept confined in a suitable facility (prison, secure mental hospital) or they have served their time and are not assessed to be a risk, in which case they should be released, with certain caveats.

" I think we've lost sight of what's important here

Daniel, what is also important is that we have the rule of law, equality under the law and concepts like that defended.

The premise should be that once found guilty an appropriate sentence is set by the court that takes into account the need to protect the public, punish the guilty and give them a chance to rehabilitate. Once that sentence is served it should be the end of the matter. If the person is still a danger to the community, then they should not be released. Mob rule is not the answer, no-one should be either above the law, or beyond the protection of it.

Megan's law is the wrong answer to the wrong question. Dangerous sexual predators should be kept out of society, people who are no danger to the community should be allowed to live in peace after paying their debt.

The problem is that paedophiles are often a continuing danger (for some of them, sexually assaulting children seems to be a compulsion), yet it's hard to quantify that danger. It's for that reason that we bar them from future employment in schools etc., notwithstanding that they've served their sentence.

I honestly don't know whether "Megan's Law" would protect children or work against their interests.

Mandatory Capital Punishment and Torture for Paedophiles who had offended and internment for those who hadn't would be far more effective than any number of registers, nothing though is going to entirely eliminate the problem because there are always going to be the ones not known about and a state of vigilance must be maintained and no one can be considered exempt from suspiscion, use of honeytraps has caught a lot of people who in the past no one would have suspected including police, judges, politicians - "pillars of the community".

Hi Sean,
I think it is one wrong trying to make up for another wrong, in that the people simply do not trust the government to protect our children, so are demanding the right to protect them themselves.

The solution, imho, is not "Megan's Law", devolving power to the mobs but to rebuild trust in the government's ability to protect children.

Personally, I believe that anyone who has sexually assaulted a child, no longer has a place in open society, but there should be a range of detention options to deter them from, for example killing the child to try and avoid detection.

In short, you'll be locked up for good, but you can determine the comfort/harshness of your detention by not adding to the crime and killing a child.

I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but we're talking about children, the most vulnerable members of our society. There are sex crimes that require firm punishment but not indefinite detention like view images etc, but once the person actually starts sexually attacking children, imho, they have forfeited their right to live within open society.


I'm no expert in offender managment but I suspect that those who do have to manage these people would far rather that they knew where they were. That almost certainly means that the public ought not to know where the offenders are. Aside from any principled objections one might have to 'Megan's Law', I suspect that this, together with the extra burden on the police in protecting these people, is likely to be decisive when Mr Reid actually gets round to talking through the practical effects of all of this with his officials.

"Daniel, what is also important is that we have the rule of law, equality under the law and concepts like that defended."

If you read both my comments, you will see that I am not calling for so-called lynch-mob justice.

My point was that those bleating about the psychological impact on paedophiles of being shunned by the community would do well to consider the psychological trauma that these people inflicted on their innocent, vulnerable victims through their monstrous acts.

Personally, I believe that anyone who has sexually assaulted a child, no longer has a place in open society...

@Chad 15:42 - An 18 year old having sex with a consenting 15 year old (statutory rape)? A 10 year old fiddling with a 6 year old? That's before we consider people who don't look their age (like me ;-)). You can't make these sweeping inclusions and this is one of the reasons why Megan's Law fails.

Hi Mark,

I oppose Megan's Law. I do not want paedophiles released to create a danger in the first place.

I also personally do not think that consensual sex between people within five years of each other's age where one is underage should be classified as rape, so that does not confuse the issue.

I think Megan's Law is a longstop. It recognizes that prisons and probation services are run by a bunch of milksops who are likely to let dangerous people out early, that this is unlikely to change and that therefore the people should have information they need to protect their children. I'm not sure it has been terribly effective in acheiving this, however.

As for whether there have been any lynch mobs in the US, the NSPCC review of the evidence found, "There appears to be some indication that community notification may result in harassment and vigilantism. However, there is little empirical quantitative or qualitative evidence about this: the number of reported examples is low and it is difficult to know the level of unreported incidents."

..with a lower limit of 13 before someone jumps in as says a 15 year can have sex with a 10 year old.

Let's get real and stop pretending we live in the 1950's. I grew up in Essex and kids were having sex from 12. Not many, but it was occurring and by 14 many had had sexual experiences, if not full penetrative sex.

It should be an offence, but it should not be classified as rape,imho, putting thse kids in the same bracket as a paedophile.

The solution to this problem is simple you lock people up until they are deemed to be no danger whatsoever to the public anymore.
By the way is it any wonder I often call people on this site idiots when we have one person advocating bringing back Victorian asylums and another effectively saying sex with children should be made lawful.
I tell you with so called friends like these the Conservative Party don`t need enemies.

Oh Jack.Even by your low standards this is a deranged post.Nobody is advocating adult sex with a child and regarding 'asylums' the point being made is that some paedophiles are mentally ill.Are you arguing with that premise?

the point is surely -

(a)that the conservative party has no intention of calling for convicted paedos to be locked up for life because they dont believe in such tough sentences.
(b) the ECHR judges in strasbourg would determine legality of any megans law anyway.
(c) is it "principled" or pure incompetence for the tories to be seen as defendin gthe human rights of literally the most hated group of people in the world? davis has identified himself so far with (a) crazed terrorists and (b) convicted paedos. nice going tories.

I agree with those who say that this isn't the route to go down and instead we should be building more prisons etc.

If someone is a danger to society they should be locked up, simple as that.

I think that it would be unwise to introduce Megan's law into this country.

In the States where it has been introduced they have a much more cut and dried Criminal Justice System, even though it apparently varies from state to state.

Their system has not been tinkered with as our justice system has been over the last ten years, and in addition we have the b....y awful HRA which also interferes inappropriately. And if that isn't enough we have the ever efficient Crown Prosecution Service!

As far as paedophiles are concerned most research seems to show that hardened paedophiles ARE recidivist i.e. a spell in prison will not 'cure' them, whether they have 'paid their debt to society' or not!! Not only that I read once that some research had shown that castration - chemical I presume had been shown to have no effect at all on the paedophiles obsession with mauling children and babies.

On the other hand it does seem an awful waste of space having to keep them in prison, when we appear to need the places so badly for all the other criminals, that we are infested with these days.

If I could have a wish it would be that ALL paedophiles could be put together on an inaccessible island, to live together..... Just like I think it would be a very salutary experience to be able to put all the thoroughly unpleasant and disruptive families together on an island, so that they could kill or cure each other!!!!

I am instinctively very cautious about any peice of proposed legislation "named" after a victim - particularly when the victim is tragically young, and photogenic. It all too often smacks of tabloid-fuelled populism. Terry Grange, Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys, is right: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5096542.stm

Hard cases make bad laws. Cases involving evil or mad perpetrators can also make bad law.

I find it truly astonishing the inversion of trust exhibited on this thread. It seems all bar a couple of posters:

1) Trust that sex offenders, one of the most recidivist of all groups of criminals, will go onto the straight and narrow having 'paid their debt to society' (translation: a few years inside with 2/3ds off for good behaviour)

2) Don't trust ordinary law abiding parents to be able to get an accurate list of potential threats in their neighbourhood to watch for without resorting to lynchings.

Personally, I don't think they should be let out either, but since indeterminate sentences are not going to be available, and since a 'life' sentence can mean as little as 3 years inside, forgive me for wanting an extra safeguard.

Oh, and as for the ever popular straw man of 'they'll go underground if we do this' goes: if they disappear, find them and lock 'em up again for breaching the terms of their parole!

Finally, I'm surprised that throughout this discussion, no one has posted a link to see the way this works in practice in the USA, so here you go, with onward links to each participating state's registries:


Registers will just lead to the properties of the offenders being targeted which will hit their families as well, families of paedophiles including the children also get targeted - there is a simple solution to this problem, mandatory torture and execution as a punishment (part of a range of offences carrying such punishments with different degrees in form based on a points system), this would avoid sham solutions that leave the offender free to offend again (in fact they are liable to be lynched anyway), reduce worries by local people that they might have a paedo in their local area and would also free space in prisons which if people involved in more serious or more chronic crime were executed could then be free to tighten up discipline by imprisoning more lesser offenders.

Don't trust ordinary law abiding parents to be able to get an accurate list of potential threats in their neighbourhood to watch for without resorting to lynchings.

I do trust ordinary law abiding parents, I don't trust the sort of idiots egged on by the tabloids who ran amok a few years ago, including the illiterates who targeted a paediatrician. Besides, even ordinary law abiding parents might act rashly if they thought someone was a threat to their children. One of my concerns is that if this register was simply the publication of names on the sex offenders register it would include people who posed no threat to the public who might be unfairly targeted having committed relatively minor offences in a moment of drunken stupidity (indecent exposure on a stag night for example).

I'm afraid I think that it is you, Gildas, who has the 'strange inversion of trust'. We should trust the criminal justice system to deal with these people effectively, and if that means indefinate confinment in a secure facility, then so be it. If the criminal justice system is failing, then it should be changed. We should not have to rely on some sort of vigilante system of releasing dangerous people and asking the public to keep an eye on them.

I would say you seem to have misunderstood some of the points made, which is if these people are dangerous, they should be locked up. If they are fit to be released, then they shouldn't be hounded once they have finished their sentence.

In the US, some states have quite tightly defined lists of offences which necessitate registration, others have a blanket rule for 'sex' offenders. This can cover a wide range of things from the most sickening and depraved crimes, to mooning out of a coach window. If I knew that any law proposed here would be tightly defined so that only people thought to present an ongoing danger to the public were on the list it would ease some of my concerns, but I would still be opposed to the law as I'd prefer to see those who present an ongoing danger kept confined.

The problem with a "Megan's Law" is that it perpetuates the myth that paedophiles are strange men living alone in a grotty house at the end of the street.

As has already been pointed out, sex offences against children are overwhelmingly committed either by a relative or close friend of the family. Children being 'snatched' is incredibly rare, which is why it receives so much media attention whenever it does happen.

If we really want children to be protected and parents to be careful, we have to start pointing these basic facts out.

I have two major objections to this proposal (and I speak as a parent of a 12 year old girl, a 5 year old girl and a 2 year old boy):
1 – We currently have over 97% compliance by released paedophiles with the Sex Offenders Register. If this is introduced, how many will “go underground”? Incentives matter – if you will be pointed at in the streets (at best) and lynched (at worst) if you comply, versus a chance of being rapped over the knuckles if caught if you do not, why comply? I fear that this measure will simply destroy what effectiveness the Sex Offenders Register has.

2 – What percentage of entries will be inaccurate “false positives”? Ideally, we’d want no innocent people accidentally on the list. However, we are talking Government + Big IT Project here … and with a subject this emotive, remember that everyone will parrot “There’s no smoke without fire …”.

Personally, I’d agree that we should take the line:
-If they’re still a danger, simply don’t release them. Chad’s line of “I don’t care what their address is as long as it starts with ‘HMP’” is a very good one-line summation.
- If they are released, don’t castrate the Sex Offenders Register like this. I’d rather have it that the police knew about where 97%+ of released sex offenders were and I didn’t know than that both of us knew where 25% of them were.

You may say that we have 97% compliance but where are the 3% who don't comply? Their names aren't public and any of them could be living next door to you. Whilst providing a list of all offenders seems over the top why not name those not complying? This would surely give them an incentive to comply with the notification requirements. There are bigger problems in the home with abuse but why ignore a small problem because of a bigger one? Both of these problems need solving and putting one aside in favour of another provides no justice for anyone.

I think that Paper like News Of the world is Yobs paper, Sarah's Law is also mobs law.

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