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My kids' hell after sex beast furore

Ulster-born child protection boss speaks of media storm

By Deborah McAleese

The Ulster-born head of the UK's child protection agency revealed today his family's distress at the massive media storm which followed his suggestion that some child sex offenders should be encouraged to seek treatment rather than be jailed.

Jim Gamble, whose highly skilled unit - the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre - is helping in the hunt to find Madeleine McCann, told how his children were left upset at being on the receiving end of sharp rebukes after his comments were reported around the world.

In an exclusive interview from CEOP headquarters in London, Mr Gamble tells the Belfast Telegraph that he would sooner put his hands "around the throat" of a paedophile than his arm around their shoulders as his critics suggested.

"I heard people in hysteria saying has he gone mad? Yes, that was an unpalatable message. That was a message that left my children getting text messages from their friends wondering whether I had lost the plot," he said.

"I'm telling you, I haven't lost the plot. I do this every day, I am solely focused to rescuing as many children as possible and holding these people to account when they have lost the plot. But I can't afford the luxury of living in a deluded world where I pretend that everyone is in prison and pretend everyone will go there, because that is not how it works.

"I am not worried about what people say about me, it is my children and my family. They were upset by the criticism and that annoyed me. Children don't like to hear someone saying bad things about their parents.

"My message about going and getting help was not about putting my arm around them (paedophiles) and feeling sorry for them - I'd sooner put my hand around their throat - but the bottom line is it's about diverting them before they hurt a child."

Mr Gamble, the former deputy director general of the National Crime Squad, also criticised Ulster's controversial 50% remission policy that permits dangerous sex offenders to automatically walk free from jail half way through their sentence.

"The bottom line is, we shouldn't be letting you out the door if we genuinely believe you still present a risk.

" If we need a new prison (to house dangerous child sex offenders) then simply build a new one," he said.

However, he warned that the hard fact is that sex offenders will be released from prison and he added that when they are they need to be managed in the community.

"When they come out that management should be sex offender programmes and, dependent on the risk, they should be under surveillance using technical surveillance bangles and chemical applications where that is appropriate to reduce deviant sexual libido in some of these individuals," he said.

But the Bangor man said that his preferred management method would be focused human surveillance when the more dangerous paedophiles are followed and their behaviour continually scrutinised

Over the space of 12 months CEOP helped rescue 76 children from sex offenders, bring down three organised paedophile rings and track 275 of the UK's highest risk child sex offenders.

Belfast Telegraph

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