AWAY DAYS FOR SEX OFFENDERS; Rapists and Paedophiles Given Trips to Cinema and 10-Pin Bowling in Staggering 'Slap in the Face' to Their Victims

Daily Mail (London), October 7, 2014 | Go to article overview

AWAY DAYS FOR SEX OFFENDERS; Rapists and Paedophiles Given Trips to Cinema and 10-Pin Bowling in Staggering 'Slap in the Face' to Their Victims


Byline: Graham Grant Home Affairs Editor

CONVICTED rapists and paedophiles in Scotland are to be taken on ten-pin bowling and cinema trips in a taxpayer-funded scheme.

The extraordinary soft-touch initiative means sex offenders who are freed early from prison are then escorted on recreational outings.

Volunteers are recruited with the aim of ensuring that sex offenders are not 'socially isolated', as this can increase the chances of reoffending.

The mentors, who are supervised and trained at public expense, provide personal and practical support for the 'lonely' criminals, helping them to reintegrate into the community.

But last night Scottish Tory chief whip John Lamont described the move as a 'slap in the face for victims'.

He said: 'Perhaps if sex offenders such as these served their full term inside, it would allow the rehabilitation process to have more effect.

'That would negate the need for these schemes which seem to be a soft-touch compensation for automatic early release. This is a slap in the face for victims and their families who will not think this is the best use of taxpayers' money, and it goes some way to reinforcing the impression the justice system spends more time catering for the needs of criminals than their victims.'

After an initial trial in Fife, Sacro, a rehabilitation quango, is offering the new scheme, known as Circles of Support and Accountability, to councils across Scotland.

They 'buy in' the service at an average cost of PS9,000 per offender. It is estimated that within five years around 100 sex criminals across Scotland will be participating in the initiative.

Paolo Mazzoncini, Sacro's director of operations for the east of Scotland, said 'social isolation and emotional loneliness' have been shown to be 'two factors which can increase the risk of reoffending'.

He said that in the scheme volunteers from the local community 'form a circle' around the offender - known as the 'core member' under its terminology - to provide a support network for the 'personal and practical needs of the offender'.

Part of the volunteers' job is to challenge the offender if they show 'any signs of minimising their behaviour' and to hold them accountable.

Mr Mazzoncini, on a YouTube video released in an attempt to reassure the public about the scheme, says: 'Should circle members have cause for concern, they will report them to the authorities and they will be acted upon quickly and robustly. …

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