Sex killers set to join register

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The Independent Online

Proposals which would see thousands more names added to the sex offenders' register were unveiled by the Government on Monday.

Home Office ministers want to close a loophole in existing legislation which means that some offenders whose crimes are sexually motivated escape registration because they are convicted of non­sexual offences.

At present, only people convicted of specific sexual offences such as rape and indecent assault appear on the list, but today's proposals will widen the list of offences which trigger registration.

Killers who are sexually motivated are not included now because, for example, murder is not classified as a sex offence.

Home Office minister Beverley Hughes also proposed closing another loophole which currently allows British nationals who commit sex offences abroad to escape registration.

The document suggests police should be able to ask magistrates to include on the list offenders convicted abroad, including foreign nationals visiting the UK.

"This is a very important review. Its proposals would serve to enhance greatly the operation and effectiveness of the Sex Offenders' Register, and contribute to the protection of the public from dangerous offenders," said Ms Hughes.

Under proposals in a consultation document published by the Home Office, people convicted of murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment, abduction or malicious wounding will be registered if a sexual motive for the crime is part of the court case against them.

Burglary with attempt to rape would also automatically require registration.

In a further tightening of the rules, people on the register will be required to visit a police station once a year to confirm their current address.

They will also have to go to a police station to report a change of name or a change of address, rather than do it by post, and must act within eight days rather than the current 14 day limit.

Offenders who are classed as "itinerant", such as the homeless, will also have to abide by the strict rules, registering "very temporary addresses" and "other locations which are not conventional homes but at which the offender regularly sleeps".

The register, designed to help the police keep track of potentially dangerous released offenders, currently holds details of about 15,000, with some 4,000 names added each year.

Home Secretary David Blunkett and his ministerial team are keen to reassure the public that released offenders are being kept under supervision, and to stave off pressure for the widespread publication of names and addresses.

A campaign for such disclosure ­ along the lines of America's Megan's Law ­ followed the killing of schoolgirl Sarah Payne.

But ministers fear that widespread access to the details of released offenders would fuel vigilantism and spark serious public disorder.