Hundreds of rapists and child abusers taken off sex offenders' register

They include 170 rapists - 27 of whom raped people under the age of 16

Nearly 700 sex offenders have been removed from the register in the last four years, including 157 child abusers, new figures have revealed.

A Freedom of Information request by the BBC found more than half of applications made by criminals to be removed from the register since 2012 have been successful.

Some of those removed had convictions including the rape of children, incest and taking indecent photographs of children, according to reports.

They include 170 rapists – 27 of whom raped people under the age of 16 – and three people who committed incest with children under the age of 13.

The figures show North West Police approved the most requests, with 90 per cent of appeals being successful; while Wiltshire Police and Northumbria Police approved the second and third most requests approving 87 per cent and 79 per cent respectfully.

North Yorkshire Police, Humberside Police and West Midlands Police approved the fewest applications, each approving less than 30 per cent.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 placed all sex offenders sentenced to more than 30 months in prison on the sexual offenders' register for life without the chance for review; however a ruling in the Supreme Court in 2010 allowed anyone whose personal details are permanently held on the register to ask to have their name removed.

The offenders who brought the challenge argued that permanent inclusion on the sex offenders register with no chance of a review was a disproportionate interference in their family lives.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The UK has some of the toughest powers in the world to deal with sex offenders. Those who continue to pose a risk will remain on the sex offenders register — if necessary, for life.

"Offenders who are on the register indefinitely are only able to seek a police review after 15 years. Public safety is at the heart of all decisions taken by police.

"A range of new civil orders were introduced by the Government last year giving police and the courts further powers to restrict and monitor the activities of sex offenders and those who pose a threat.”

The Home Office added that each application for review is considered on a case by case basis, and any review is carried out by the police and takes into account a range of factors.

Forty out of 44 UK police forces able to approve applications responded to the BBC’s FoI request. Information about the offences people had committed was provided by 35 of the forces.