Police to watch sex offenders 24 hours a day

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Paedophiles and violent criminals are to be targeted by police in an unprecedented surveillance operation across Scotland. More than 3000 registered sex offenders and the country’s most dangerous non-registered sexual predators are to be effectively put under 24-hour surveillance in a bid to dramatically cut the number of rapes, child abductions and murders. [...] As part of the pilots, the registration number of their car will be stored in a network of cameras around the country that will alert the police if their vehicle passes, revealing undisclosed trips or journeys to areas they are banned from visiting. [...]

Senior police sources say that pilots of the system, called the Violent Offender and Sex Offender Register (Visor), will allow the police to "get in front" of criminals for the first time before they commit a crime. They aim to prevent tragedies like the killings of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by Soham school janitor Ian Huntley in 2002, or the sexual assault and murder of eight-year-old Mark Cummings, who was killed by registered sex offender Stuart Leggate in Glasgow last year. A vast array of information will be held on Visor, from the name and address of an offender to any distinguishing marks. Also included will be a full description, their modus operandi, known phrases they use, their associates, places frequented, mannerisms and even their pets and hobbies. [...] "It's no good having systems that only cater for people after they've committed serious and horrendous offences. That doesn't protect people." [...]

Despite the backing from police and the minister, human rights campaigners last night struck a cautionary note about the plans. [...] Kenny MacAskill, SNP justice spokesman, said there were "worries about individual liberties". But he added: "We are talking about people who are highly dangerous. The police would be accused of being negligent if they weren't taking this forward. There are worries about individual liberties but I have faith in the police to get the balance right."

source: Article 'Police to watch sex offenders 24 hours a day' by Liam McDougall; www.sundayherald.com/51291; Sunday Herald, UK; 14 August 2005