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
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
i100
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick