Sex offenders break conduct rules 50 times

Weightlifter Alan Ogilvie violated the orders
Weightlifter Alan Ogilvie violated the orders
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SPECIAL orders taken out against sex offenders in the Lothians in a bid to monitor their behaviour have been breached nearly 50 times in the last three years, new figures revealed today.

A total of 43 individuals are subject to Sexual Offence Prevention Orders (Sopos), which impose strict limits on their movements and whom they can contact.

But Lothian and Borders Police has recorded 45 breaches of the orders between October 2008 and August this year, including 22 cases where offenders had contact with children.

The figures, released to the Evening News under Freedom of Information laws, today sparked calls for sex offenders breaking their Sopos to receive the “maximum possible jail sentence”.

Of the 43 offenders given Sopos, 24 had previously carried out sex attacks against children while another ten were caught in possession of indecent images of youngsters.

The orders are typically taken out against the most dangerous individuals among the 600 registered sex offenders in the Lothians.

Among the other Sopos breaches recorded by police were 16 cases where offenders failed to live in accommodation approved by officers, four for being caught in “restricted places”, and one for “computer misuse”.

Gavin Brown, Lothians Conservative MSP, said: “These figures show more than one breach each month on average, which is wholly unacceptable. Anyone breaking these orders needs to be treated with the maximum possible jail sentence to send out the message that breaches will be treated with the greatest severity.”

Conservative justice spokesman John Lamont MSP said: “These orders were designed to protect our children from individuals who carried out sickening crimes. Even one breach would be too many and, if these provisions are not restricting the access these criminals have to our children, then they are not fit for purpose and more severe measures must be sought.”

The 43 Sopos in the Lothians contain 183 separate prohibitions, with every offenders’ contact with children subject to control.

Twenty-eight of the Sopos restrict where offenders can live, 28 where they can work, and 37 the public areas they can go to. The youngest recipient of a Sopo is 24, with the oldest aged 80.

A police spokeswoman said: “The management of sex offenders in the community is a particularly sensitive and complex area of work. Public safety is always the main priority in all cases.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The monitoring of sex offenders in Scotland is now tougher than it has ever been, and is one of the most robust systems of its kind anywhere in the world.”

Among those jailed for breaching their order was shamed weightlifting champion Alan Ogilvie, 42, jailed in November 2009 for three years for tricking young boys into taking part in internet “cyber-sex” sessions.

Ogilvie admitted communicating with young men under the age of 16 between September 1, 2008, and June 2, 2009, thereby violating his order.

amcewen@edinburghnews.com