MONSTERS ON OUR STREETS: Secret hostels where paedophiles lurk in our midst
By Keith Gladdis, Neville Thurlbeck & Matthew Acton
THE News of the World has scored a massive victory in the crusade to protect Britain's kids from sex abuse.
Home Secretary Charles Clarke yesterday pledged that all schools WILL be warned about nearby paedophile hostels.
He acted after we exposed the government's MAPPA warning system as a failure that left head teachers in the dark about predatory perverts living on their doorstep.
Home Secretary Charles Clarke yesterday ordered that every school and nursery MUST be told of paedophile hostels in their area.
He spoke out following the shock News of the World investigation detailed on these pages— which reveals many head teachers have no idea predatory sex pests are housed on their doorstep.
"Protecting the public, in particular children, is my absolute priority," declared Mr Clarke.
Schools were supposed to be given the information through Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement panels, controlled by police. But the system FAILED.
Now Mr Clarke has ordered the Probation Service to tell heads about "Approved Premises"— Home Office-vetted hostels.
He told us: "I want to make sure that if there are schools or nurseries that do not have this information we have in place the necessary mechanisms to ensure they do.
"Therefore I have today asked that all schools are made aware, with immediate effect, of the status of any Approved Premises in their vicinity. I have asked as a matter of urgency that the key agencies involved—including education and housing—are fully aware of the potential risks so that appropriate action can be taken."
Last night Sara Payne, the mother of eight-year-old Sarah who was murdered by a serial paedeophile in 2000, welcomed the move. She said: "Although it's just a first step along the way it sounds like a big step—and a brave one—in the right direction.
"Now we must make sure that Mr Clarke's promise is fulfilled."
Mrs Payne, 37, added: "Hopefully we finally have a politician who puts children and their rights first. And not the offenders." TODAY we put every parent in Britain on alert—for nests of convicted paedophiles are being planted right next to unsuspecting schools ALL OVER the country.
A shock nationwide News of the World investigation has revealed a network of official probation hostels swarming with evil sex offenders—and most are deliberately kept secret from neighbouring families and school heads.
In one disturbing case we even discovered a serial child sex monster freed early from jail and sent to a Liverpool halfway house just minutes' walk from the home of his last victim.
Our whistle-blowing evidence has sparked instant action.
Last night Home Secretary Charles Clarke ordered that schools be WARNED of sex-pest hostels in their area. And the Merseyside pervert has been MOVED.
It's about time. For our probe exposed past government promises to protect the public as a SHAM. And their MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements) system—introduced as a half-hearted response to our Sarah's Law campaign—to inform communities of monsters in their midst, was revealed as a FLOP.
In Liverpool a terrified mum wept to discover monster Anthony Knowles, who snatched her eight-year-old daughter, had won early release and been secretly moved into the Merseybank hostel near their home. The family got no warning.
After our investigators uncovered the scandal and tipped them off the mother sobbed: "Oh God, not again! I can't believe he's back and so close. I'm going to be looking over my shoulder for ever.
"My daughters are terrified he'll come back for them one day. I'm horrified."
Our camera caught Knowles, 44, prowling his old turf near the hostel—just a short walk from Faith Primary School, with three more within a mile radius.
His sickening record of repeat attacks includes assault on an 18-month-old toddler. In 2001, just 17 DAYS after release from jail to the Merseybank hostel, Knowles targeted his last victims—the eight-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy playing in the street. Promising Boyzone tickets, he grabbed their hands and marched them off but was seen by the girl's sister who raised the alarm.
Knowles got six years for attempted kidnap but was released just before Christmas. Last night the children's furious mum told us: "He should never be allowed out—he WILL do it again.
"I'm glad he's now been moved out of Merseybank. But they're just shifting a problem to someone else's community."
To test the MAPPA warning system, launched in 2001 in a fanfare of governmnet publicity, we asked the Merseybank hostel manager if he housed sex offenders. He refused to answer.
Posing as an anxious member of the public we asked the same question at nearby St Anne police station. The desk officer claimed no information was available, blaming the Data Protection Act.
We found similar horror stories and responses all over Britain. There are 100 Home Office-approved halfway hostels. But almost every inquiry to find out which ones harbour sex fiends was met with a wall of secrecy. Many police officers hadn't even heard of MAPPA.
In Bournemouth the Pines bail hostel is approved to house child molesters—close to FIVE schools. Pokesdown Primary head Vivienne Miller told us: "I didn't know about it. Thanks for letting me know."
We asked at Boscombe police station if the hostel housed dangerous paedophiles. The desk officer was evasive. She said: "There are all sorts." Could MAPPA help? "No one will tell you," she insisted. In Essex the 24-bed Basildon bail hostel houses sex offenders 200 yards from Briscoe Primary School and Nursery.
Head Diane Pilgrim said: "I wasn't even aware there was a hostel there."
At nearby Pitsea police station we asked if there were sex pests in the hostel. An acting inspector insisted: "I'm not prepared to discuss it with you."
After Charles Clarke's pledge, MAPPA MUST discuss the problem with schools.
But worried parents don't have to take it all on trust. On the right we print our cut-out guide containing the vital questions to ask to keep YOUR kids safe.
[ed: this list did not appear in the online edition]