The circumstances of the case involving paedophile John Atkinson are deeply troubling to say the least.
We certainly share the NSPCC’s concerns about how a registered sex offender could abuse a child while subject to an arrangement specifically designed to increase public safety.
We are told that steps had been put in place to reduce the risk Atkinson posed – and yet he still managed to commit a truly horrific crime while on bail for making and possessing indecent images of children.
We’re sure many people will want to know exactly what happened here.
And yet their outrage and frustration will undoubtedly be compounded by the fact that Hampshire Police is unwilling to reveal more about the precise nature of the supervision arrangements Atkinson was under.
Of course it’s right that an automatic review should be triggered if a sex offender is subsequently charged with a serious offence.
We also understand there are sometimes legitimate reasons why every single detail of a case cannot be aired in public.
But the police have a duty to explain what happened here and surely that means revealing more about the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)?
How are we to have faith in measures specifically designed to keep our children safe if we are not allowed to know how robustly those steps are enforced, for example?
When a person is placed on the sex offenders’ register, society has a right to expect that everything will be done to keep tabs on that offender in the future.
At the moment, people will be forced to draw their own conclusions on whether the measures surrounding Atkinson were adequate or not.
But at the very least, the force must be prepared to make the conclusion of this review public.
We would certainly condemn any attempt to keep the findings secret because the public will want to be reassured that mistakes were not made in this case.
If lessons need to be learned, we have a right to know.