March 01 2012

**When we have as much concern for the innocent victims as Mr Baggot has for the child molesters, then we’ll be getting somewhere.

Revealing where child abusers live in Northern Ireland would increase the risk of vigilante attacks, the region’s top police officer has warned.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable Matt Baggott said he would be nervous about any move to disclose details on such sex offenders because of the potential of attack.

Mr Baggott was pressed by a member of his independent scrutiny body – the Northern Ireland Policing Board – on whether he supported the introduction of disclosure measures currently in operation elsewhere in the UK.

Democratic Unionist David McIlveen said parents in the community had genuine fears they could be living next door to someone who could present a danger to their children.

Mr Baggott acknowledged the issue was a very important one, but he added: “I have nervousness which is the society in which we are living in here sadly is prone to some degree of vigilantism and I think the risks of public disclosure of names leads to inevitable action for some.

“And that is my big concern and we have a responsibility under the Human Rights Act for the protection of individuals so I think bearing in mind that is the reality you have to be very, very careful before you enter into any public disclosure of names with all the consequences.”

He said the way to deal with potential threats was to ensure monitoring and supervision of convicted offenders in the community worked well.

Mr McIlveen acknowledged there was an issue around vigilantes but he said parents needed to know more.

“The DUP believes that the measures which are in operation on the mainland should be extended to Northern Ireland,” he said after the meeting. “Parents have a right to know if someone convicted of sexual offences against children is moving into their neighbourhood.

“Whilst I was disappointed that the chief constable was unable to offer full support to our stance on this issue, I was pleased to hear him reaffirm the determination of PSNI to protect our children and young people.”