Calls for sex offenders’ register to protect children

Police seal off the area after the body of eight-year-old Mark Cummings, pictured right, was found. Picture: Robert Perry

Police seal off the area after the body of eight-year-old Mark Cummings, pictured right, was found. Picture: Robert Perry

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Scotland must create a public register of “dangerous paedophiles” living in the community so parents can take steps to protect their children, MSPs at Holyrood will hear today.

Labour’s Paul Martin said the measure is based on schemes in place in the US and would allow the whereabouts of dangerous offenders to be searched for by name or postcode.

It comes after a “failure” to act on key recommendations of a flagship Holyrood report which was published ten years ago following the killing in 2004 of eight-year-old Mark Cummings in Glasgow by convicted paedophile Stuart Leggate.

The victim’s mother, Margaret Ann Cummings, who has become a campaigner on the issue, will be in Parliament to hear MSPs debate the proposal today.

A motion lodged by at Holyrood by Mr Martin, noting calls for “increased public awareness” of sex offenders at risk of reoffending, has won support from MSPs across all the main parties at Holyrood.

Mr Martin said: “I believe every parent has a right to know if a dangerous sex offender is living nearby so they can take reasonable steps to protect their children.

“The aim of the online registry would be to increase awareness of offenders thought to be at high risk of reoffending.

“It is important to emphasise that such a system would be part of a basket of measures used to manage sex offenders, protect communities and support victims of abuse.”

The database proposal is based around the Megan’s Law set-up in the US, which requires the authorities to make information available to the public about registered sex offenders.

Other measures being called for by Mr Martin include a panel of expert clinicians to assess sex offenders on a case-by-case basis to determine their risk of reoffending and their eligibility for the online registry.

Convicted sex offenders should also be required to disclose information about their convictions during the housing application process, along with a review of sentencing tariffs for child sex offenders.

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