NSPCC warns against early release of sex offenders

Freeing convicted sex offenders who have served only a few months in prison could put children’s lives at risk, the NSPCC warned yesterday.

The child protection charity warned that proposals being considered by the government to extend its early release scheme for prison inmates could leave children vulnerable to attack.

Government figures released this week show that the number of registered sex offenders increased by 18% last year and now stands at 28,994.

The charity claimed that only the most dangerous sex offenders, who account for 1 in 20 of all known offenders, are fully supervised once they are released into the community. They predict that extending the early release scheme could see sentences reduced by up to a quarter.

NSPCC director of public policy Phillip Noyes said more resources were needed so that current levels of supervision for high risk offenders could be extended to all medium risk offenders.

“Close supervision means the police and probation services can move in if a freed prisoner approaches children,” Noyes said. “By acting early we can prevent an offender committing yet more heinous crimes of abuse.”

But probation union Napo said the idea of supervising the 20,000 medium risk offenders currently in the UK in addition to the 3,000 already monitored would cost the government between £20m and £25m. 

Napo assistant general secretary Harry Fletcher said the idea was “not unworkable”, but would require a vast amount of resources and training.

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