Hundreds of registered sex offenders are missing in the UK, according to new figures. Some have been at large for over a decade.
A Freedom of Information request by the Press Association has revealed that the whereabouts of 396 convicted offenders are unknown to police.
This is despite the legal requirement that they be monitored by police and report any change of address to the authorities.
The answer to a further request by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) indicates that in England and Wales that just 900 police officers were expected to deal with over 45,000 offenders.
According to the charity, half of those on the sex offenses register have been found guilty of rape or sexual assault against a child.
Jon Brown, who heads the NSPCC’s sexual abuse programs, told The Guardian newspaper: “The monitoring of registered sex offenders in communities needs urgent attention by the government to ensure it is fit for purpose.”
“Some of these offenders have committed the most serious of sexual offences against children but even the risk posed by offenders classed as lower risk can increase quickly, because of dynamic factors such as a relationship breakdown or a relapse into substance misuse.”
In January the Ministry of Justice published figures showing that hundreds of sex offenders are being given lenient punishments by British judges despite committing “abhorrent” crimes against children.
Official figures suggest hundreds of sex offenders have been let off with cautions, despite the law saying they should face jail sentences of up to 14 years.
According to the ministry, there have been 7,057 cautions handed to sex offenders in the UK since 2009.
The figures come as authorities investigate allegations of historic child abuse during the 1970s and 1980s, including a suspected elite pedophile ring consisting of former and serving British politicians.
Philip Davies, the Tory MP who disclosed the figures, said sex offenders were not “feeling the full force of the law.”
“It is completely unacceptable to give cautions for sexual activity with children under the age of 13,” he said. “There are no mitigating factors and no excuses. They should go before a judge.”