Increasingly, the internet and in particular social media are being used in efforts to actively identify Registered Sex Offenders (RSOs) within communities, commonly referred to as ‘Outing’ of RSOs, and organise public protests to target them at their home addresses. While local residents may see this as responsible and community minded action, it actually undermines the significant efforts undertaken by Police and partners to manage RSOs
Police and partners have a legal responsibility under MAPPA to manage all RSOs living in communities. This is achieved by working together to assess the risk posed by each RSO and implementation of tailored Risk Management Plans with appropriate measures to manage those risks. This may include measures of support which provide a level of stability, which in turn reduces risk.
As a result, the majority of RSOs do not present a high risk of serious sexual harm and their sexual re-offending rate is extremely low – significantly lower in comparison to other types of offenders.
With very few exceptions, RSOs are entitled to live in any property they own or are otherwise accommodated in by a Local Authority or other housing provider. Their addresses undergo stringent assessment by MAPPA partners, to ensure every reasonable precaution has been taken to safeguard both the local community and the offender.
Housing is recognised as a critical factor in providing stability, which can help to reduce any risk posed by such offenders.
The practice of identifying RSOs and ‘outing’ them via social media, protesting outside their homes and physically confronting them can have a destabilising effect which significantly impacts on the ability of the police and partners to manage them effectively in the community. It also requires the deployment of additional policing resources reducing the ability to respond quickly and effectively to other calls for police assistance within communities.
While most protests are peaceful, there have been instances whereby property has been damaged and individuals assaulted or threatened with physical violence. There have also been instances of mistaken identity resulting in innocent parties being targeted and their property damaged by members of their own local communities.
We would ask people to consider the potential consequences of their actions. Criminal behaviour will not be tolerated and those responsible will be arrested.