Whom is the sex offenders’ register for?

The sex offenders’ register has been in and out of the news for some time now. Recently, John Reid made the vote-winning decision to make the register publicly available, which is dangerous. I’m not sure what benefit this has to the general public. The fact that a 16-year-old who is found guilty of having sex with someone one year his or her junior is given the same status as Jonathan King makes the single-tiered nature of the register nonsensical.

And which crimes should have an associated register and which should not? Should there be a murderers register? A rapists register? A burglars register? If its purpose is to flag people who put the general public at risk, then this suggests that the government has failed in its rehabilitation of these people, an element of the sentence that is sadly overlooked.

Also, alas, the British public is not sufficiently competent to use the data appropriately. A household in Scotland recently suffered untold abuse because it was found to contain a paediatrician.

On a related point, the BBC punctuates the register such: the sex offender’s register. I think this implies that it is a register for the sex offender. I would argue that it is a register of sex offenders, so the apostrophe should succeed the S. Or else it has become sufficiently prevalent a term not to warrant an apostrophe at all.


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