Scottish Daily Mail
Beat bobbies used to monitor sex pests
SEX offenders are having to be monitored by inexperienced community officers because Police Scotland is struggling to cope with the sheer weight of new cases.
There are nearly 4,000 perverts in the community, a figure which has soared by a quarter in the past five years.
Now a pilot scheme in Fife has farmed out supervision from specialist units to neighbourhood constables tasked with spotting danger signs in the behaviour of registered sex offenders (RSOs).
Critics warned the move could have catastrophic consequences.
Sandra Brown, who runs the Moira Anderson Foundation, a charity that helps victims of sexual abuse, said: ‘Officers who deal with sex offenders must have the right skills and considerable experience.
‘They have to be able to read the subtle warning signs of danger and going on a course can’t provide you with this insight.’
She added: ‘My fear is that community officers, who are already rushed off their feet, are being given an unmanageable task and this could cost somebody their life.’
There are nearly 5,000 RSOs north of the Border, with around 3,850 living in the community, up from only 3,062 in 2010.
They are monitored under MultiAgency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), which aim to ensure that police and council social work departments share the burden of supervising RSOs.
The majority of RSOs are Level 1, which means they are either low or medium risk and watched over by Police Scotland’s regional Offender Management Units (OMUs) alone.
Fife has seen RSO numbers rocket by 14 per cent in the past year, and in April community ward officers, after being sent on weeklong training courses, were handed supervision responsibilities.
Last year, three-quarters of the record-breaking 69 RSOs reconvicted for violent or sex crimes were under low-level supervision.
In 2011, Edinburgh grandmother Rosina Sutherland, 74, was raped and murdered by Kevin Rooney. He had been branded an ‘imminent’ risk by specialist doctors, but their report was not read by senior police or social workers. Instead, he was placed in a B&B without proper supervision, leaving him free to attack the OAP in her home.
Earlier this year, Fife Council warned ministers it was facing a cash crisis in dealing with RSOs.
The funding local authorities are given by the Scottish Government to work with offenders in the community has been frozen at a time when the number of RSOs across Scotland has increased by 12 per cent and the number of offenders breaching their orders has risen by a third.
Labour justice spokesman and expolice chief Graeme Pearson called for a review of MAPPAs as changes in the ‘nature and scale’ of sex offending required a new system.
Detective Superintendent Gail Johnston, of the national OMU, said: ‘All officers in this pilot have received the same standard of training as full-time OMU officers and all of their work is overseen and managed by OMU managers.’
‘This could cost someone their life’