Police defend sex offender monitoring as 300 remain missing

Police insisted today they are doing all they can to monitor sex offenders as it was revealed more than 300 are missing in the UK.

The Sun newspaper asked every force in Britain how many registered sex offenders were missing in their area.

Forty-six forces out of 52 replied at the time of going to print, and in total the whereabouts of 316 sex offenders were unknown.

These included 128 in London, 30 in the West Midlands and 15 in Greater Manchester.

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said: "The safety and protection of the public is paramount at all times when dealing with sex offenders.

"We take this matter extremely seriously and officers are proactively following lines of inquiry in order to trace these offenders to ensure that they are dealt with robustly for having breached the terms of their conditions."

Superintendent Bob Mills, from the West Midlands Police Public Protection Unit, said officers were working "continuously" to find those missing.

He said that task "has to take place in a controlled and covert way to reduce the risk of the offender going further off the radar".

Supt Mills added: "Our strategy for finding these offenders is regularly reviewed and also considers the potential for the victim becoming a target of retribution.

"Their names, pictures and any new intelligence are circulated on the Police National Computer and to all forces and law enforcement agencies."

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Riddick, from Greater Manchester Police, said the number of missing offenders, 15, is less than 1% of the total number of registered sex offenders in the area.

He said: "None of those that are currently missing are classed as very high risk.

"Protecting people is our priority and through the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappa), all serious offenders are rigorously managed and monitored by specially trained staff.

"We know the impact these offences can have on victims and families and that is why Mappa in Greater Manchester is so important to us."

Kent reported that there were 14 people on the sex offenders register who had gone missing, while in Sussex there were 11, and Humberside and South Yorkshire have eight missing each.

Each police force has arrangements with agencies including the local probation and prison services under Mappa to monitor those convicted of sex crimes.

Head of Kent Police's public protection unit Detective Superintendent Maria Shepherd said: "Kent Police holds public protection at the heart of its business. Our joint police and probation public protection team operates as a centre of excellence working closely with our Mappa partners.

"Protecting the people of Kent is our priority. We work with our partners to use all the resources available to us in order to best manage violent and sex offenders in Kent, helping to keep our communities safe. We will also work closely with other forces, in the UK and abroad, to ensure the law is upheld."

Sussex Police said that as of March 1 this year, 10 out of nearly 1,000 registered sex offenders were missing.

A spokesman said that a "considerable amount of time and effort" is taken trying to trace them.

He said: "It is not national practice to routinely publicise personal details or photos of missing sex offenders. The need for publicity has to be considered against the relative risk each may or may not present.

"Most missing offenders are at the least serious end of the scale of previous offending and are traced, or return, within a short time without any evidence emerging that they have further offended meanwhile.

"Routine publicity could also over time have the effect of dulling public alertness to the rare cases in which there is serious risk.

"However each case is dealt with individually and if we felt an individual offender was likely to cause actual or immediate harm to the public we would most certainly consider publicity."

The 10 forces with the highest numbers of missing sex offenders, out of the 46 that replied, were:

Metropolitan Police 128

West Midlands 30

Greater Manchester 15

Kent 14

Sussex 11

Humberside 8

South Yorkshire 8

Leicestershire 7

Tayside 7

Thames Valley 7

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map