Paedophiles could be driven underground if the media continue to publish
details of their whereabouts, a police force warned today.
Child killer Robert Oliver, 52, had to be escorted from his home in
Bishops Lydeard, Somerset, by riot police yesterday following a day-long
protest by local residents.
An angry crowd of up to 60 people had gathered to protest outside his
home after details of of where he was living were published in The News
of the World.
A window and door panel were smashed at the bungalow as Oliver cowered
inside – leaving the police with little option but to move him for his
Oliver is being monitored by Mappa, the multi-agency team set up to
manage serious violent and sex offenders after their release from
But Avon and Somerset Police said today there was a danger that
paedophiles would disappear if they continued to be hounded by the
"In this case, at this time, the individual concerned has been
co-operating fully with the Mappa process and we are in regular contact
with him," a force spokeswoman said.
"However with persistent media attention, there is a very high risk that
he could be driven underground.
"As the law stands he is a free man. The public should therefore be
reassured because he is voluntarily co-operating fully with the Mappa
process, which is more than he is legally obliged to do.
"The persistent high-profile media interest in this particular case has
prevented us from being as open with the public as we might otherwise
Oliver, who has changed his name to Francis Lee, was jailed for 15 years
in 1989 for the manslaughter of 14-year-old Jason Swift during a
He was freed in 1998 and was living in a bail hostel in Bristol in April
this year, but was moved after The News of the World photographed him
walking the streets.
He was then moved to a safe house at Avon and Somerset Police's
headquarters, before moving to another hostel in Bridgwater.
Oliver has reportedly been living in a bungalow in Bishops Lydeard since
His case has reignited the debate on where paedophiles should be housed
after they are released from jail and what rights the local community
has to know of their whereabouts.
But the angry scenes outside Oliver's home on a council estate could
damage protesters' demands for parents to be informed if paedophiles are
The News of the World has led the campaign for the so-called Sarah's
Law, which was launched after eight-year-old Sarah Payne was murdered by
paedophile Roy Whiting.
The paper "named and shamed" scores of people it said were guilty of sex
offences against children as part of the campaign, but stopped the
initiative after innocent people were attacked by vigilantes who mistook
them for paedophiles.
Five families who were wrongly identified as harbouring sex offenders
were forced to flee their homes in the Paulsgrove estate in Portsmouth
as violence flared earlier in August 2000.
The same month a paediatrician who worked in a hospital in Newport was
forced to flee her home in the village of St Brides, South Wales, after
vandals mistakenly assumed that her job title meant that she was a
On December 1 the Home Office disclosed that it was considering allowing
single mothers to check up on new partners to see if they were sex
Under the plan, checks would be made by police and would have to be
supported by reasonable grounds for suspicion.
Neighbours would also be allowed to check with police on whether next
door neighbours were paedophiles.
Prime Minister Tony Blair suggested today that proposals for communities
to be given more information about the location of paedophiles would be
brought forward early in the new year.
He told his monthly Downing Street news conference that there were some
instances where the public had a "right to know about a particular
problem" but warned of the dangers of "mob rule".