MP backs police cell for sex beast

IPSWICH MP Chris Mole today backed police after it was revealed a notorious sex offender is living in the town's police station.Convicted rapist Steven Beech, who has a record of 115 offences, has been using the police station as a bed and breakfast since Tuesday.

IPSWICH MP Chris Mole today backed police after it was revealed a notorious sex offender is living in the town's police station.

Convicted rapist Steven Beech, who has a record of 115 offences, has been using the police station as a bed and breakfast since Tuesday. It is believed he is supervised by police officers 24 hours a day.

Mr Mole said he supported how the situation was being handled.

"Clearly they have got a very difficult job on their hands and my sense is that they have gone about handling the situation in a sensible way," he said.

"I don't think there are that many with such a history as this character appears to have. I take his presence here very seriously and the police are as well. I don't know why this character has alighted on Ipswich but, by all accounts, he has been anywhere and everywhere.

"I am very concerned that this seems to be a very dangerous man but I am very encouraged by the way the police are going about handling it. For somebody this dangerous, I am confident they are making their best efforts," Mr Mole added.

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"He is not currently under arrest," he said, adding that police must have determined it was in the "best public interest" for Beech to remain at the station. "I have no problem until such times as he moves on, and let's hope it's not too long."

Beech, who has the head of Christ tattooed on his chest, is believed to be sleeping in a custody cell at the town's Civic Drive station – which has the largest custody suite in the county.

The 38-year-old has served his time for his offences, including eight years for raping a priest's elderly and arthritic housekeeper in a London vicarage in 1992, and is now free to come and go as he pleases. He is believed to be accompanied at all times by two plain-clothed policemen who monitor his every movement.

It is believed Beech, who has no fixed address, is staying in a police cell voluntarily while he is in Suffolk – a move which has made it easier for officers to trace his movements.

Beech's arrival has highlighted the dilemma faced by the authorities, particularly police forces, when a serious sex offender arrives in an area having served their sentence.

The serial offender, who is originally from the West Midlands, is subject to a sex offenders' order that stops him sharing a home with a woman without the written consent of the area's chief constable.

It is thought that police consider Beech such a risk to the public he will be trailed and surveyed by officers until he decides to leave for another region, upon which he becomes the responsibility of that area's police force.

Suffolk Constabulary has declined to comment on Beech's whereabouts, which Supt Carl Puiy explained was in line with national police policy of anyone on the Sex Offenders' Register.

"Neither do we issue personal details of sex offenders from the register to the media and the public, unless there is an identified danger to the public," he said.

"Experience has shown that the best way for us to minimalise the risk posed to the public is to work with other agencies to manage and supervise sex offenders within the community.

"Widespread public disclosure of the personal details and whereabouts of sex offenders is only likely to force them underground, placing the public at greater risk by releasing them from any form of official supervision."

The Beech case highlights the dilemma facing the authorities, particularly the police, when a sex offender turns up on their doorstep after serving his sentence and has to report to the local force because he is listed on the Sex Offenders' Register.

If he goes on to commit another offence, the police will likely find themselves criticised both for failing to prevent it happening and for not informing the community he had moved to the area.

Suffolk police's apparent response in this instance, with Beech able to be closely supervised, is a commendable solution. It does, however, have a considerable impact on local police resources and is a problem the force could well do without.

Beech's offences have mostly been committed against women but he has also been convicted of acts against men. His lengthy record does not include any offences against children.

He was deported from Australia more than 15 years ago and was expelled from Ireland in 2000. Liverpool magistrates made the sex offender's order against him in October 2000, when he was also forbidden from being drunk outside any house. He made legal history as the first person to become the subject of a sex offender's order banning him from pestering women – he broke it within three days. The order lasts for five years.

Beech decided to come to Ipswich on Tuesday after being cleared in a Sheffield court of breaching the order and South Yorkshire Police escorted him to Suffolk.