New abuse rules follow Glitter release
New measures to prevent UK paedophiles travelling overseas have been announced to coincide with the day Gary Glitter was set to return to Britain.
Former popstar Glitter, real name Paul Gadd, was due to arrive at Heathrow airport on Wednesday morning after serving almost three years for sexual molestation of underage girls in Vietnam.
He is currently in Thailand after refusing to board a connecting flight to the UK following a reported ‘heart attack’.
His anticipated return has coincided with tough new measures from the Home Office to stop child sex offenders from re-offending.
Home secretary Jacqui Smith wants to make it easier for police to place restrictions on convicted offenders.
On Tuesday children’s charity NSPCC voiced concerns that Glitter, who was sentenced to three years in jail for “obscene acts with children” after being convicted in November 2005, could take advantage of lax UK ‘sex tourist’ laws.
The 62-year-old was due to be met at Heathrow by police officers and forced to sign the sex offenders register.
But Ms Smith wants police to be able to go further in controlling the former glam-rock singer.
“We need to control him, and he will be, once he returns to this country,” she said.
“It certainly would be my view that with the sort of record that he’s got, he shouldn’t be travelling anywhere in the world.
“I want Gary Glitter to be controlled whilst he’s here and I don’t want him to be able to go anywhere else in the world in order to abuse children.”
With that in mind on Wednesday she proposed new measures to help British authorities manage and rehabilitate sex offenders while maximising public safety.
But the Home Office told inthenews.co.uk the proposals had not been rushed through to coincide with Glitter’s arrival back in the UK.
A spokesperson added it was up to the police to apply for any restrictions upon Glitter.
The government wants to remove the need for recent evidence when the police are seeking a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) and extending the duration of a foreign travel order (FTO) from six months to five years.
Ms Smith is also suggesting the automatic removal of an offender’s passport when they are subject to a blanket foreign travel order.
At present police could only apply for an SOPO or FTO based on new evidence.
“The UK has a rigorous system in place for managing child sex offenders which is among the toughest in the world. The changes I’m announcing today will strengthen that even further,” the home secretary, who is also considering raising the upper age limit for children at risk from 16 to 18, said.
“I want to see anyone who poses a threat to our children dealt with as firmly as possible. I’ve spoken to child protection experts and the police and they have told me that these changes will further restrict the ability of child sex offenders to harm children both here and overseas.
“I will legislate for these measures as soon as possible.”
The NSPCC has already dubbed the new proposals as a “crucial step” towards clamping down on sex tourism.
“We have been consistently saying that when there is clear evidence a sex offender poses a risk the authorities must have effective powers to stop them from going abroad,” the charity’s policy advisor Zoe Hilton said.
“But if they do travel there must be better systems in place to monitor and track their movements. The UK government has a crucial role to play in working more closely with other governments and police to keeps sex offenders on the radar and bring those who commit sexual crimes against children to justice.”
Glitter was sentenced to four months in jail in the UK after pleading guilty to charges of downloading pornography depicting children being abused.
He shot to fame in the 1970s for his glam-rock performances of songs including I Love You Love Me Love and Do You Wanna Touch Me.