A VITAL programme to treat high risk sex offenders is set to be axed because of funding cuts — with warnings Inverclyde could end up a more dangerous place to live.

Inverclyde Integration Joint Board, which oversees health and social care locally, no longer has the money to continue with a public protection programme for registered sex offenders list from April next year.

Inverclyde will be hit with a 20 per cent cut in its criminal justice social work grant over the next five years because of a reduction in Scottish Government funding.

Outraged members of the joint board have demanded a rethink on the funding — agreed by the local authority umbrella body Cosla — as they say it puts members of the public at risk.

Board member Christina Boyd, who represents carers, said: “In relation to the sex offenders this will make Inverclyde a more dangerous place to live.

“The majority of victims of sex offenders are women and young children.

“It makes it more dangerous for them and that is a big concern.”

Funding for the programme — Moving Forward Making Changes — is not protected.

From April next year there will be an immediate six per cent decrease in criminal justice social work and the cut will be repeated year on year.

This is a direct result of a new formula for criminal justice social work funding introduced by the Scottish Government which does not take account of high levels of deprivation locally.

Head of criminal justice Sharon McAlees told a meeting of the joint board that the reduction has the potential to undermine the authorities’ attempts to meet statutory and public protection requirements.

She added: “It looks like we will have to withdraw from the programme for treating high risk sex offenders.

“But we will utilise everything that we have in all areas to deliver services and our public protection agenda.”

Chief officer and health and social care Director Louise Long said: “We will leave no stone unturned to come up with what we can with our available resources.”

Board member Councillor Jim Clocherty added: “Someone has got it completely wrong and Inverclyde is losing out.”

Colleague Dr Donnie Lyons, a leading psychiatrist, branded the funding cut ‘disgusting’.

Chief officer and director of health and social care director Ms Long said Scottish ministers were aware of the situation and sympathetic, but added: “This has been ratified by Cosla.”