Child Abuser Register ‘Must Cross Border’

One of the UK’s children’s commissioners has declared there is a pressing need for an all-Ireland sex offenders register.

Patricia Lewsley, the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, also declared that the right of convicted paedophiles to continue to travel abroad or hold a passport should be re-examined.

She said that police forces on either side of the Irish border still did not share information about sex abusers.

In an interview with The Observer to mark the launch of a three-year consultation with children and young people, Lewsley warned that voluntary groups such as sports clubs may have to contribute to the costs of a new register that would include those convicted of sex offences before 1999. The current register only includes those with convictions since 1999.

The commissioner added: ‘I am saying to government quite clearly that these voluntary bodies should not be made to pay for something that is so necessary in protecting children and young people.’

She said that ‘on balance’ she was in favour of tighter restrictions on the right of convicted child sex abusers to travel. ‘We do know a lot of sex abusers go abroad with the specific aim of exploiting vulnerable children. They can leave Britain or Ireland without a trace. So I think it is time the government should explore this question.

‘I know of one case of a paedophile going from here to France and the French being unaware of his presence there even though he was a serious threat to children. There has to be an international dimension to child protection.’