No supervision for sex offenders being sent back to Britain

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The Independent Online

Dozens of convicted paedophiles have been deported to Britain and moved into the community without monitoring, a Scotland Yard inquiry suggests. An investigation at Heathrow found about one unsupervised sex offender was returning to this country via the airport every three weeks, The Independent has learned.

Dozens of convicted paedophiles have been deported to Britain and moved into the community without monitoring, a Scotland Yard inquiry suggests. An investigation at Heathrow found about one unsupervised sex offender was returning to this country via the airport every three weeks, The Independent has learned.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police child protection unit believe many more British paedophiles have been slipping into the country through other airports and ports.

A loophole in the law has meant British citizens convicted of sex offences abroad do not have to go on the sex offenders' register, so do not have to reveal where they are living.

The Met's paedophile squad, the largest in the world, is discussing with Customs and Excise a national monitoring scheme to interview and monitor all deported child-sex offenders entering Britain. The head of the Met unit said unsupervised paedophiles were almost certain to reoffend.

The Home Office said it had just introduced legislation to close the loophole, but the Met said it relied on foreign governments and courts informing police about convictions and deportations.

The Met realised the potential scale of the problem only after it started monitoring deported paedophiles who did not have a conviction for a sex offence in the UK, coming into Heathrow five months ago.

It discovered that since 1 January, 20 convicted child-sex offenders had entered. Eight were British citizens who had been deported, five by the United States, and the remainder from New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. Other paedophiles entered Heathrow the year before, deported from Thailand and Cambodia.

The remaining 12 men were paedophiles convicted of offences in Britain and suspected of travelling abroad to abuse youngsters. The police discovered that five of the 12 - all of whom are on the sex offenders' register - had broken the law by failing to tell the authorities they were travelling abroad. All five were arrested.

The issue was highlighted by the case of John Keeler, 60, from Manchester. He was thrown out of Cambodia in August last year, and was due to return to Britain after serving a three-year sentence for child pornography. He was headmaster at the London School of English in Phnom Penh until he was caught filming young girls posing indecently in a park.

During the five-month pilot scheme, child protection officers at Heathrow interviewed offenders as they entered the country. But unlike the Met, whose unit has nearly 500 officers, most forces do not have the manpower to monitor their airports for paedophiles.

Detective Chief Inspector Matthew Sarti, head of the Met unit, said: "There is no necessity to notify us if a convicted paedophile moves here or is deported. When they arrive they did not go on the register because they had not been convicted of an offence here. If you are abroad, the judiciary does not say you are now required to register when you return to the UK because they do not have a clue about our legislation." He said a world-wide register of sex offenders is crucial to monitor and manage all paedophiles. "We know for a fact that people who abuse children will go to whatever means they can to repeat this offence. Once you are a paedophile you are always a paedophile. It does not change."

A Home Office spokeswoman said that new legislation meant that in future the police can apply to the courts for an order to place the deported paedophile on the sex offenders' register.