Aug 5 2011 by Lorraine Waddell, Lennox Herald (main ed)
THE locations of sex offenders in Dumbarton, Alexandria, Helensburgh and Lomond are set to be revealed.
Dunbritton Housing Association recently won a four-year battle to get information published on where the criminals are being housed in this area.
The Dumbarton-based housing association joined two Glasgow organisations in campaigning for access to facts and figures – to determine whether or not a higher number of sex offenders were being dumped in poorer housing schemes.
Scotland’s Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion ruled that Strathclyde Police must release data on the number of criminals in each postcode area requested. This covers five zones in Dumbarton, four in Alexandria and four in Helensburgh and Lomond.
A Dunbritton spokeswoman said: “We asked the police for statistical information to find out if poorer communities were housing greater numbers of sex offenders coming out of prison.
“Giving us this information will help to prove or disprove a theory that, by accident or design, poor communities tend to end up housing the bulk of society’s known sex offenders.
“If the theory is proven then the information will help provoke a discussion at a national level about whether it is appropriate that Scotland’s poorest communities bear a disproportionate responsibility for housing known sex offenders.”
The request for this information was first launched by Dunbritton, along with Craigdale and Blochairn housing associations in Glasgow, following the murder of schoolboy Mark Cummings.
He was killed in Royston, Glasgow, in 2004 by Stuart Leggate who was on the sex offenders register.
The organisations believed more sex offenders were being dumped in social housing within deprived areas than in other streets.
Strathclyde Police challenged the request arguing that providing this information could lead to sex offenders being identified, but Dunbritton are confident this won’t happen.
The spokeswoman continued: “If provided, the one thing the information will not lead to is individual sex offenders being identified, directly or by using other public information to track them down.
“We did not want to know names and addresses or to obtain information that would identify an individual.”
The groups have always been keen to provoke debate on the issue which may push for a change to the current system.
The spokeswoman added: “If the information proves the theory this will allow us to raise the issue at a national level.
“The intention was always to provoke a discussion about whether it is appropriate that Scotland’s poorest communities bear a disproportionate responsibility for housing known sex offenders.
“The association is a member of the government’s working group for the review of the National Accommodation Strategy for Housing Sex Offenders (NASSO).
“Our role in this group is to raise concerns over fundamental weaknesses with the government’s current policy on housing sex offenders. If the statistical information we asked for proves the theory this will be discussed directly with government.”
Strathclyde Police is currently considering its position and still has time to appeal the decision. If the force complies with the order, the information will be published by early September.