The Express: Uproar as 317 sex offenders go on the run

Wednesday, 24 December, 2008

THE number of registered sex offenders feared to be missing has soared over the past two years, police figures suggested last night.

Data released from 38 police forces showed that 317 convicted perverts are classed as missing or unaccounted for.

The figure contrasts with 322 missing sex offenders reported by a much wider remit of 49 police forces in January 2007, indicating the total number has risen.

The new tally - released by two thirds of the nation's police forces under Freedom of Information laws - provoked accusations that Government incompetence is putting the public at risk.

Shadow police reform minister David Ruffley said: "The public are sick and tired of this Government's inability to properly run information and data-base systems.

"The Government should start to put this right by putting more police on the street to catch these missing offenders."

London's Met Police reported the largest number of perverts suspected to be on the run at 112. The West Midlands has 34 missing, Greater Manchester reported 18, Kent has 13, Northumbria has 12 and Sussex cannot trace 10.

Registered sex offenders are required by law to inform police and probation officers of their addresses. A raft of agencies are then expected to keep a track of where the perverts are living.

Freed sex offenders are supposed to be monitored by officials workin g under multi-agency public protection arrangements But Home Office officials fear registered offenders - including rapists and child molesters - exploit loopholes in the system, allowing them to register vague addresses and then simply "disappear".

A total of 31,069 sex offenders are registered in England and Wales.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We have one of the most robust systems in the world for the management of sex offenders, which enables the police to manage their risk and protect the public.

"From this year, the MAPPA Strategic Management Boards in each area will collect and monitor data on missin g registered sexual offenders to assist police forces in dealing with those offenders who breach their requirements by going missing."