Scottish Daily Mail

Beat bob­bies used to mon­i­tor sex pests

- By Mark Howarth Crime · Scotland · Fife · Edinburgh · Sutherland · Scottish Government · Graeme Pearson · Kevin Rooney

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’

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