An MSP has called for Peterhead Prison’s sex-offender programme to be expanded after it emerged that some of Scotland’s most dangerous sex offenders have been charged with further serious crimes since their release.
New figures revealed that there have been 183 breaches of sex-offence register orders over the last year – including new offences by nine of Scotland’s highest-risk offenders.
The figures emerged just weeks after Scotland’s top prisons inspector said high-risk sex offenders were being released from Peterhead Prison without being properly rehabilitated.
Last night the Scottish Conservatives said the prison’s rehabilitation programme should be expanded to treat all dangerous offenders.
More than 3,000 sex offenders are living in Scottish communities – but the whereabouts of 21 of these are currently unknown.
The figures were published in the first annual report from eight justice regions, known as multi-agency public protection areas (Mappa).
Police would not disclose details about the nine high- risk reoffenders, but they were among the 979 worst offenders in Scottish communities supervised at the highest levels by police and other agencies.
Detective Superintendent Willie Manson, who co-ordinated the scheme, said its first year indicated success.
He added: “Any serious or violent sexual offence is of great concern. But we need to look at this figure in the context of 979 offenders being managed at these levels.
“This number is unlikely to ever be zero but Mappa gives us an effective structure to allow all the responsible authorities to work together to share information and agree risk-management plans that minimise that risk.”
The Mappa reports showed there were 3,131 registered sex offenders on March 31, a year after the new system was introduced. Of these, 3,063 offenders complied with the terms enforced on them by authorities.
Deputy Chief Constable Bill Skelly, of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, said there were two known offenders wanted by authorities and a further 19 who had left the country.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “Today’s reports provide clear evidence that the responsible authorities are developing a comprehensive response to a complex and sensitive issue, using professional judgement to properly target resources to the key risks.”
Last month, Chief Inspector of Prisons Andrew McLellan said paedophiles and rapists were being returned to communities after serving time at Peterhead Prison without being made to address their behaviour.
In his latest damning report on the jail, he said demand was not being met for its sex offender treatment programme (SOTP), which is specifically designed to prepare sex offenders for release and tackle their attitudes.
He said the programme – previously known as Stop – has long waiting lists and inmates have been finishing their sentences before they get a chance to take part.
Peterhead Prison is Scotland’s only dedicated jail for sex offenders.
Tory MSP John Lamont, the party’s spokesman on community safety, said the rehabilitation programmes should be expanded.
He said: “The simple fact is that if someone remains a risk, they cannot be released. If that requires more prison space and a more expansive rehabilitation programme, so be it.
“We must also turn our attention to the already released offenders who have not been rehabilitated.”