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Jamieson rejects call for paedophile notification

19 June 2006

The Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson has decided that parents should not be told if there are sex offenders in their communities.

Ms Jamieson has accepted expert advice which states that telling local communities about the presence of sex offenders drives the problem underground and risks giving a false sense of security.

She was quoting US research that showed the so-called "Megan's Law", implemented following the death of a US child at the hands of a known sex offender, had not worked in the States.

Campaigners in Scotland and England have called for parents to be told about sex offenders, following the death of Sarah Payne in Sussex six years ago, and eight-year-old Mark Cummings in Glasgow two years ago. Both were killed by known paedophiles.

Last week MSPs on the Justice 2 Committee, after hearing Mark's mother, called for an ad hoc committee to be set up to look into the possibility of applying "Megan's Law", or "Mark's Law", in Scotland. But in a letter to the committee convener Ms Jamieson states that community notification schemes have run into problems because they create a false sense of security and because so much child abuse takes place in the home.

Ms Jameison believes that decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis.

Yesterday Home Secretary John Reid said he was considering providing access to information about paedophiles in England and Wales. He is to send a Whitehall minister to the US to find out how the law works there.