Sex offender control orders ‘used too freely’

ONE in seven sex offenders hit with special court orders to monitor their behaviour broke them in a single year, new figures have shown.

Among the 68 sex predators in the force area who are ­subject to Sexual Offence ­Prevention Orders (Sopos), ten were convicted of breaches during that period.

The figure does not include Da Vinci Code rapist Robert Greens, who was caught ­violating his Sopo banning him from entering Penicuik.

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The number of breaches has sparked criticism against the orders for being used “too freely”.

But police chiefs said the orders were a “deterrent to some offenders”, adding that they gave “greater powers to promptly arrest” individuals who flout them.

The orders are typically taken out against the most dangerous of the 539 registered sex offenders in the Lothians, and often include a ban on these predators from approaching children.

A total of 68 Sopos were in force in Lothian and Borders on March 31 last year, a rise of five orders in a year. Ten offenders were convicted for breaking them between April 2011 and last March.

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “It’s important serious criminals such as sex offenders serve the full term of their sentence and are not let out early.

“The SNP has pledged to end automatic early release on two occasions, but still refuses to do so. That so many of these offenders have breached the terms of their Sopos indicates they are being used too freely.

“It will bring no comfort to the people of the Lothians who trust the authorities to keep them safe.”

Lewis Macdonald MSP, Labour’s justice spokesman, said: “Sopos provide an extra tool to not just arrest someone for breaking the terms, but also jail them as a result.

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“That is what the public would like to see happen in these cases.

“That does not mean that the orders always prevent offenders from breaching the conditions. With one in seven doing so they are perhaps not afraid enough of the consequences.

“There needs to be direct and serious consequences for breaking a Sopo.”

The orders, imposed by the courts, can impose strict limits on an offender’s movements and whom they can come into contact with.

New police figures showed that 539 RSOs were living in the Lothians in December last year, 331 of them in ­Edinburgh. Under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Agency (Mappa) monitoring scheme, two were assessed as being “very high risk” individuals while 92 were evaluated as “high risk”.

A police spokesman said: “Sex offenders are vigorously monitored under the multi-agency provisions of Mappa and any individual convicted of a sexual offence has statutory requirements that they must adhere to. Sopos are a valuable addition to the tools used by the police to monitor sex offenders in the community, whose current behaviour is of concern to the police and our partner agencies.

“These orders are a deterrent to some offenders, whilst giving police greater powers to promptly arrest any offender who breaches or attempts to breach an order.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The monitoring of sex offenders in Scotland is now tougher than ever before.

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“Sopos provide an active and practical response to managing the risks sex offenders pose.

“Sopos allow specific conditions to be placed on an ­offender’s behaviour.

“Those subject to Sopos are closely monitored by the police and where a breach occurs there are five-year jail terms available.”

Three high-profile sopo breaches

DA VINCI Code rapist Robert Greens is the most high-profile offender to have been caught violating the terms of his Sexual Offences Prevention Order (Sopo).

The 35-year-old was spotted near the Tesco supermarket in Penicuik in October last year, flouting his ban on entering the town.

Greens was ordered to serve an extra year in prison at the High Court in Edinburgh on Wednesday for breaching the licence conditions of his early release from prison.

He is also due to be sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for breaking his Sopo, which also included prohibitions on approaching children and internet access.

Kevin Rooney was repeatedly jailed for breaking his Sopo before starting a minimum 21-year prison sentence in June last year for the rape and murder of a frail grandmother.

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Rooney, 26, was convicted of murdering 74-year-old Rosina Sutherland in her sheltered housing bungalow in Longstone Park in October 2011.

Shamed weightlifting champion Alan Ogilvie, who has been repeatedly jailed for child sex offences, has also been caught breaching his Sopo.

The former Commonwealth Games medallist was arrested in September 2011 for changing his address and failing to inform police.

In November 2009, Ogilvie was jailed for three years for breaching his Sopo by tricking young boys into taking part in internet “cyber-sex” sessions.