Convicted paedophiles `must disclose overseas travel plans'

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The Independent Online
CONVICTED paedophiles will have to notify the police whenever they travel abroad and sex offenders visiting Britain will have to tell the authorities where they are staying, under plans being considered by the Home Office.

The issue of sex offenders who travel abroad was highlighted by the disclosure yesterday that a British-born paedophile who emigrated to Australia 27 years ago is being deported back to Britain.

The 57-year-old man, a former computer salesman in the state of Victoria, has been convicted of 30 sex offences against children in Australia. He now faces deportation and could be sent to Britain within weeks.

But under current British laws the man, known only as VZD for legal reasons, cannot be added to the new Sex Offenders' Register, which enables the authorities to keep track of them. Only people who have been convicted or imprisoned in Britain since September last year are placed on the register and they must notify police of changes to their name and address.

But ministers are known to be concerned about the potential danger of paedophiles secretly travelling to Britain, or going abroad to abuse children in countries such as Thailand.

Home Office officials are reviewing the Sex Offenders Act and are considering adding amendments to the law to force all convicted sex offenders who travel to Britain to sign the register. They are also considering forcing paedophiles in Britain to tell the police whenever they travel abroad.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We are looking at making these possible changes in light of concerns being raised by the police and others."

The case of VZD echoes that of the paedophiles Robert Oliver and Sidney Cooke, members of a violent sex gang, who were convicted under old legislation. Like them, he will not be covered by current sex offenders' legislation and will not be required to register or be supervised by the probation service.

The paedophile was first jailed in 1991 for attacks on two boys. He was given a six-year sentence, but served only two years and two months after agreeing to attend a special course to rehabilitate sex offenders. On the last day of the course, he admitted abusing a female relative, first when she was aged seven, for four years. Last year he was jailed for seven years.

Earlier this year, VZD was arrested after early release from prison to face a deportation order because he failed to apply for citizenship and committed his first crime within 10 years of arriving in the country. He is being held in a detention centre awaiting deportation, unless he lodges an appeal within three weeks.

The move was greeted with dismay by campaigners against child abuse in this country. Wendy Copeland, chairwoman of the White Ribbon Campaign, said: "We've got enough paedophiles already in this country draining our resources."

A Home Office spokesman said the paedophile could become the subject of a new Sex Offender Order, which comes into force at the end of the year. The orders can be placed on convicted sex offenders to restrict their movements, or impose other conditions in cases in which the police have evidence that they are likely to commit further crimes.

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