Sep 28 2011 by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Wednesday
EMOTIONS are continuing to run high in Cowie following a series of open air evening vigils over fears a convicted sex offender has been housed in the village.
Since last Wednesday, between around 20 and 80 locals have staged a peaceful protest in the Hilton area every evening from 7.30 until 9.30.
While initially demanding the removal of a man they believe to be a convicted paedophile, the vigils have continued in a bid to highlight their desire for answers as to why the authorities may consider the area suitable for homing people on the sex offenders register.
However, a public meeting scheduled to take place tonight (Wednesay) in Cowie Community Centre is not now going ahead.
As the Observer went to press protesters were told by Stirling Council officials they were no longer being allowed to use the centre.
Spokesperson for the protesters Helen Leister said: “Given the short notice we decided to postpone it. So far we have not been given a satisfactory explanation as to why we are not being allowed to hold the meeting in the centre.
“Our agenda was reasonable and reflected genuine community concerns. We are extremely angry at the moment. Some of us have, however, been invited to a meeting with senior police officers this week hope to organise another public meeting.”
Organisers had invited guests such as police, councillors and council officials to the meeting to provide reassurances over this and other issues in the village.
Helen added: “The meeting was to cover a number of issues.
“We want answers as to why the Hilton area of Cowie would possibly be considered appropriate for a MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement) in rehoming sex offenders.
“The police have said their hands are tied in terms of either official confirmation this person is who we believe he is, or even that he is still in the house. We think he has gone now, but we don’t know for sure.
“This area is one of largest in Cowie and is full of kids and families, and there are two schools within walking distance. Why would anyone think this was a suitable area?
“We have gone to a lot of effort to ensure that this protest has been peaceful and well organised. We are not interested in causing trouble, we simply want our concerns addressed and we hope our presence has been enough to make our feelings clear to certain people and to the various agencies concerned.
“We appreciate these issues can be difficult but the vast majority of people in Cowie want to work with these agencies to improve our community and build up trust.”
Also on the agenda was to have been discussion on issues such as discarded needles, under age drinking and community improvements.
Central Scotland Police have neither confirmed nor denied the community’s belief that a paedophile was living in the area was correct. Two officers were initially posted outside the man’s home for the first evenings of the protest.
They added: “CSP will not comment on specific cases or individuals. The management of sex offenders in the community is a particularly sensitive and complex area of work which involves the police and a number of other key agencies operating under MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement) guidelines.
“Public safety is always the main priority in all cases. Whilst it remains the main priority, a balance is required between public safety and the right of the individual.
“All aspects of cases are carefully considered at every stage of the process, from psychological and risk assessments to places of residence and potential security issues.
“A number of measures can be put in place to manage offenders in the community and these are monitored by dedicated staff, including police officers, on a multi- agency basis.”