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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Registered sex offenders increase
Child abuse
The government says the public is better protected than ever
The number of registered sex offenders living in the community in England and Wales has risen by 15%, figures show.

In the 12 months to April there were more than 24,500 registered offenders - 3,000 up on the previous year.

The Home Office says the figures were expected to increase as more people were added.

One of the areas with the highest proportion of convicted sex offenders is Humberside, where Soham murderer Ian Huntley used to live.

As a society we have to face up to the fact that there are dangerous offenders in all our communities and manage the risks they pose
Correctional Services Minister Paul Goggins
The Home Office data, released on Wednesday, also showed that the proportion of registered sex offenders per 100,000 of population rose to 46 from 40 the previous year.

But only 26 offenders being monitored under the scheme committed serious sexual or violent offences while on the programme, an annual fall of 46%.

Correctional Services Minister Paul Goggins said: "As a society we have to face up to the fact that there are dangerous offenders in all our communities and manage the risks they pose."

The highest risk offenders were "more closely scrutinised than ever" by panels, he added.

"Only a very small proportion - this year as low as 1% - of offenders referred to the panels are charged with serious further offences."

There were significant regional variations in the number of sex offenders as a proportion of the population.

The lowest was in Hertfordshire with 27 for every 100,000 in the population, while the highest was in West Yorkshire with 67.

The biggest risk to most people's children is from people that they know and care about who've never been before a criminal court
Donald Findlater
Lucy Faithfull Foundation
Second highest was in Humberside, with 66, where the police force was strongly criticised in the Bichard Report for the way it dealt with intelligence on suspected criminals including potential sex attackers.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said it was difficult to say whether there were now more paedophiles and sex offenders in communities than in the past or whether systems were now "more in place than they used to be".

But Donald Findlater, deputy director of child protection charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, said the numbers on the child sex register had increased as expected.

He said that sex offenders on the register posed "far less risk" than those who had not been convicted.

He told BBC Radio Five Live: "The biggest risk to most people's children is from people that they know and care about who've never been before a criminal court and have not been convicted of any crime yet."

Licence conditions

The figures were released as part of an annual report on Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements which bring together police, probation, social services and other agencies to monitor violent and sex offenders in the community.

The sex offenders register was set up in 1997 to monitor people who have been convicted of certain sexual offences.

Offenders are given strict licence conditions on release from prison and face a return to jail if they fail to co-operate.

The highest-risk violent and sexual offenders are supervised by multi-agency public protection panels, which include police officers and probation staff, and they can even face surveillance by detectives.




SEE ALSO:
Public to help manage sex offenders
13 Jun 02  |  Politics


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