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 It's business as usual for Durhams Public Protection unit


A specialist unit within Durham Constabulary which protects the public from violent and sexual offenders is highlighting that, despite Covid-19, it is very much business as usual.

Durham Constabulary’s Public Protection Unit, together with the national probation service and other partners, keeps the communities of County Durham and Darlington safe by managing offenders.

Under the sex offender registration scheme, offenders must inform Police of their address every 12 months and if they move addresses or stay somewhere for a protracted period of time then they must also inform the Police.

The unit is headed by Detective Inspector Lee Blakelock, who said: “I have a team of 19 people including detectives, investigating officers and support staff dedicated to managing both sexual and violent offenders.

“They are supported by 40 specialist trained Neighbourhood Police officers spread across the force area. With the assistance of our Digital intelligence and investigation team and software obtained from the FBI we continue to use all available tactics to tackle digital offending.

“The vast majority of offenders have remained compliant with both their management and the national restrictions due to Covid-19, but some have used it as an opportunity to challenge their management.

“In the past few months the team have continued to supervise these offenders and several arrests have had to be made in order to preserve public safety.

“These include two offenders who left the region to establish relationships and change address without notifying Police.

“Of course during a pandemic we have needed to adapt to protect the public and also our officers from Covid-19, but the team have moved quickly mobilise and locate these offenders, bringing them into custody.

“One offender was sentenced to 29 months’ custody and the other six months.

“These sentences reflect how seriously the courts view breaches of sex offender management orders.

“We have also made several disclosures as a result of Sarah’s law applications”.

Det Insp Blakelock added: “The work done by all concerned in sexual and violent offender management often goes unnoticed due to the sensitivities.

“Nevertheless partnership working continues to operate and has not broken stride as we continue to work together to keep the public safe”.