§ 6. Mr. Bill O'Brien (Normanton)
What recent initiatives he has taken to reduce the incidence of paedophile crime; and if he will make a statement. 
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Charles Clarke)
The Government attach great importance to protecting children from sex offenders. We are introducing legislation this Session to create a comprehensive scheme to prevent unsuitable people, including sex offenders, from gaining access to children through working with them. We are establishing a criminal records bureau. We are also investing in the Prison Service sex offender treatment programmes. Sex offender orders and extended sentences for sexual and violent offenders are now available to the courts. In police 11 terms, we are focusing on the international paedophile networks through the National Criminal Intelligence Service, which will be helped by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill that is now being considered by the House. The Association of Chief Police Officers has established a register of sex offenders, which contains more than 10,000 names.
§ Mr. O'Brien
I thank my hon. Friend for that reply and for the efforts being made by him and his colleagues to ensure that no danger is posed by sex offenders. I realise that the Sex Offenders Act 1997 is a valuable tool for the police in tracking sex offenders. In the Horbury community in my constituency recently, there was great concern about the fact that a registered paedophile had been seen around schools and with children due to assemble. It seems that further regulations are needed, or instructions to the police with regard to the tracking of sex offenders. Another problem involving young offenders—10, 11 and 12-year-olds who offend against small children—needs to be examined by the Department. Will my hon. Friend take note of the concerns that I express on behalf of my constituents, who are troubled by the presence of sex offenders in the community?
§ Mr. Clarke
I note the points that my hon. Friend makes. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the police, who, under the Sex Offenders Act 1997, have achieved through the police national computer almost 97 per cent. compliance by those required to register. That is a tribute to police work on this type of crime. My hon. Friend suggests an initiative to track sex offenders; that technique is used and can be further developed.
§ Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West)
Did the Minister see the exhibition of literature sponsored by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth) that was on display in Committee Room 18 on Thursday last week? If he has not seen that exhibition, may I commend it to him? The production of such literature for influencing children at school—presumably after the abolition of section 28—constitutes in itself a sexual offence against children.
§ Mr. Clarke
I did not see the exhibition in Committee Room 18 to which the hon. Gentleman referred. Much work is being done through the education service and schools throughout the country to make children aware of the dangers that they may experience. In the context of the section 28 debate, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment has issued substantial and strong guidelines to help schools to guide their children effectively.
§ Mr. John Heppell (Nottingham, East)
Will the Minister join me in congratulating the police, the probation service and the Prison Service in Nottingham on the undoubted success of the special unit at Nottingham prison, where two of the most notorious paedophiles have been housed for six months without incident or any risk to children in the area?
§ Mr. Clarke
I am happy to congratulate the police, especially the Nottinghamshire police. The Prison Service has made a major effort to improve our ability to 12 rehabilitate and deal with some of the most persistent offenders. I am sure that the House would want to congratulate Nottingham prison on its work.