The Sex Offenders Register - How does it work?
As a tool for measuring risk to the public, the Sex Offenders
Register alone is an imprecise guide.
The register contains the details of all those convicted of a crime
in England and Wales under the 2003 Sexual Offences Act.
predatory paedophile such as Roy Whiting, the murderer of Sarah
Payne, would be on it, and so would a 16-year-old convicted of having sex with a child of
Someone who has merely received a caution - such as the Norfolk
teacher, Paul Reeve - would also be placed on it. But, for the
police, this is simply a basic building block of information.
Sex Offenders in your area - How many and how are they managed?
A total of 27 convicted sex offenders are missing from Scotland 's monitoring regime
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Sex Offender Requirements
The requirements for sex offender registration has been tightened
since the register was set up under the
1997 Sex Offenders Act.
Offenders must now register with the police within 72 hours of being
convicted or cautioned. They must give their name, date of birth,
home address and national insurance number - if applicable. Initial
reporting to a police station has to be in person. The police may
apply for anyone convicted of a sex offence abroad to be placed on
the register. It may also be a condition of registration that an
offender notify the police if he or she is intending to travel
There is a sliding scale applied to offenders required to go on the
register. Anyone getting a jail term of 30 months to life is subject
to an indefinite term of registration - usually for the rest of
their life. A sentence of six months to 30 months is accompanied by
10 years on the register. A sentence of under six months will
require registration of up to seven years. That includes those
cautioned or given a community rehabilitation order. For those under
18, the length of time on the register is usually half that of the
adult term. Failure to register attracts a fine and or a jail
sentence of up to five years. According to the Home Office, the
compliance rate is around 97%.
What criticism is there of the register?
The civil liberties campaign group Liberty has
expressed concern about the range of offences covered by the
register. Anyone cautioned or convicted under the Sexual Offences
Act can be placed on the register. This potentially includes
underage teenagers engaged in consensual sex, as well as adults
convicted for child abuse and rape. But Derek Green, the director of
the child protection organisation RWA, opposes exempting people
cautioned or convicted of certain sexual offences from being placed
on the register. He says it is worth monitoring those cautioned for
minor sexual offences in order to see whether they repeat their
behaviour. The sex crimes consultant, who works with the
police, said: "For example, if a young person cautioned for indecent
exposure comes before the police or courts again while being
monitored on the register, then there may well be an ongoing problem
Who gets told about the movements of sex
Head teachers, doctors, youth leaders, sports club
managers and others, including landlords, are notified of the
existence of a local sex offender on a confidential basis, but a
system of general disclosure is unlikely to happen in Britain.
How many Sex Offenders are missing?
2007 using the Freedom of Information Act, the UK News of the World
Newspaper asked all 50 forces in England and Wales how many sex
offenders were currently missing. They are required to inform police
and probation officers of their addresses. The Metropolitan Police
confirmed 88 offenders from London were missing, but a spokeswoman
refused to say how long their whereabouts had been unknown or give
any details of their crimes. She said the figure of 88 was low
compared with the total number of registered sex offenders in the
Metropolitan force area, but refused to say what that total was. She
said police were taking "pro-active" steps to try to trace the
missing offenders. The News of the World investigation also revealed
West Midlands Police had lost 25 sex offenders and Greater
Manchester 18. The Home Office said the sex offenders' register was
a "powerful operational tool" which had a 97% compliance rate.
according to the News of the World, registered sex offenders -
including rapists and paedophiles - have used a loophole in the
system allowing them to register vague addresses in order to
Last year, one paedophile who breached register conditions was
allowed to give his address as "woods" after moving from "a tent
near Guildford leisure centre", the paper claimed.
Thanks to a new intelligence database, called ViSOR, police forces
have access to much more information which will give them a better
chance of assessing the risk to society posed by an offender. ViSOR,
which stands for Violent and Sex Offenders Register, tells police
officers how many registered sex offenders are in their area and for
what crimes they have been placed on the register.
ViSOR will play a
vital role nationally in keeping tabs on violent and sex offenders.
It will mean that a body of information and intelligence on such
offenders can be easily and swiftly logged on a UK-wide database for
all police forces to share and have access to.
What do other countries do?
In the US, parents have access to pictures and
details of all registered paedophiles. This right is known as
"Megan's law", named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, who was found
strangled near her New Jersey home six years ago. Her parents
campaigned for the police to notify communities when paedophiles
Are your children
safe on holiday? Read the report from Australian reporter
The law was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1997 and has since
been adopted in some form by all 50 states. It arose from the rape
and murder of seven-year-old Megan Kanka. She was killed by Jesse
Timmendequas, a known child molester with two previous convictions
for sexual offences.
UK Opinion on
Downing Street says there are "genuine
difficulties" in allowing the public to have more information about
the whereabouts of paedophiles.
Join our community at the
Kidshield Forum, we
want to hear your views
The Internet Watch Foundation
indicates that the USA and Russia between them appear to host the
majority of illegal child images.
How the US manages it's sex offenders.
Are your children's photographs safe on
Nannies, Au Pairs and your children's
Child Tracking Tools
EU Guidelines to Prevent Sex Offenders from
working with children.
Your children's safety on holiday.
Read the Australian report
The opinion of Downing Street on
paedophiles in your community
Child Sex Tourism.
Each year, more than one million
children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade.
NSPCC Briefing on sexual abuse.
Paedophile Ring uncovered in the UK