Paedophile fears pump up hostel row

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The row over the Edward Street hostel has boiled over after reports sex offenders and paedophiles were being accommodated in the building.

Residents claim the hostel is not suitable for a street which includes a pre-school nursery just across the road, a dancing school and a number of church-orientated youth groups.

They have consistently asked the Simon Community, which runs the facility, to confirm or deny that sex offenders and paedophiles are being accommodated.

The Simon Community has released the following statement to the Portadown Times after last week’s revelation that paedophiles would, in fact, be among those accommodated –

“As part of a comprehensive community safety approach, Simon Community NI in this instance works with the Probation Board for Northern Ireland, Social Services, Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the PSNI and a range of non- statutory organisations who work to the public protection arrangements for Northern Ireland.

“As part of the arrangements there is a victims’ subgroup which includes Victim Support, NSPCC and Nexus. They have emphasised the importance of this type of approved accommodation in safeguarding public protection and child protection through risk assessment and risk reduction.

“The victims’ sub group has said that, at times, it is important that those who have offended can access structured accommodation. This may be about providing a period of assessment before returning to the community or as part of a structured plan to manage risk and can include attendance at treatment programmes. It is essential that agencies have access to a range of accommodation such as that in Edward Street.

“The Edward Street accommodation has operated successfully in Portadown since 1980. There has been no change to the client group, the number of available bed space or the way the service has been delivered in that time. The current change is an upgrade to the premises to bring it up to modern building standards.”