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17 May 2010, 05:02
Oxfordshire's police are warning parents not to get involved in Facebook groups publicising the whereabouts of sex offenders.
It's after more than 2,000 people joined a group calling on members to 'watch' a paedophile reportedly living in the county.
Thames Valley Police say the extra exposure could lead offenders to go underground, where they can't be traced as easily, putting children in greater danger.
Claude Knights from the children's charity Kidscape is also concerned: "Many of them will be following treatment programs or be part of ongoing monitoring. If they actually go off the radar we know they're unstable, they feel quite desperate, and could, because of all these factors, strike again."
Thames Valley Police say they and other organisations keep tabs on sex offenders under the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), which place a duty on police, Thames Valley Probation and the Prison Service to "assess, monitor and manage risk posed by registered sex offenders in the community."
Detective Superintendent Claire Stevens from the Thames Valley Force said: "A number of groups have been set up on social networking sites identifying specific high-profile sex offenders. There are always inevitable inaccuracies in information which does not come from official sources.
"I understand the public are concerned that offenders may be living in their neighbourhood. However, there is a danger through the activities on these sites that public exposure could lead offenders to go underground, meaning they are far more difficult to manage through MAPPA.
"MAPPA is a tried and tested process which works well in monitoring these offenders. We feel confident we have a system which manages sex offenders in a way which provides as many safeguards as possible to reduce any risk they might pose."