Each decade seems to have a moral panic or concern about sexual offending. The headline CRACKDOWN ON SEX OFFENDERS UNVEILED (Guardian, 19 December 1996), announcing the Sex Offenders Bill, highlighted the recent enthusiasm to monitor the activities of sex offenders after caution or conviction. The Sex Offenders Act 1997 focuses on the requirement that certain ex-offenders notify the police of their names and addresses and any subsequent changes to these. This article considers some of the ethical issues (e.g. maintaining the balance of freedom and control), the policy context (e.g. is the registration scheme part of a wider movement?), and the practical issues (e.g. what is the size of the problem and how will the police deal with the issue?). The central question is whether the benefits on the containment of sex crime by control in this way over convicted sex offenders may, in fact, be illusory and the Act have been introduced simply to feed the political agenda of the law and order lobby.