But an Acpo spokeswoman said that nearly all of those who were not accounted for were either in jail or were in the 12-day period of grace after being released from custody. She claimed that police forces had made good progress in tracking paedophiles since the introduction of the register in September. She said: "We have now got 88 per cent compliance and we regard that rate as pretty good."
Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, said the situation was worrying but should be kept in proportion. He said: "I am sure the police and probation service will make tracking them down a priority in the new year, but even if they do the register will only be a fraction of the sex offenders living in Britain. The total number of men living in England and Wales convicted of sex offences against women and children is 110,000."
- Ian Burrell