Paedophiles and rapists will be eligible to have their names removed from the sex offenders' register after 15 years under plans announced yesterday by the Home Office.
The move follows a ruling by the Supreme Court that their indefinite inclusion, without the chance of a review, amounted to a breach of human rights. David Cameron has described the judgment as "completely offensive" and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, protested that it put the "rights of sex offenders above the rights of the public".
But James Brokenshire, a Home Office minister, confirmed that the Government had decided to respect the ruling, but stressed it would do "the minimum necessary" to comply.
Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, attacked the move and called for MPs to hold an urgent debate on the issue. She said: "We believe sex offenders should stay on the register for the protection of the public. Victims of sex offenders have suffered serious harm and many continue to do so."
There are currently about 45,000 sex attackers on the register, around half of them for life. The Home Office estimates that about 1,000 offenders could challenge their inclusion each year by asking a senior police officer to reconsider their registration.
Mr Brokenshire said the onus would be on an offender to prove he no longer posed a risk to the public and one would have to pay an initial fee of £200 if he wanted to appeal against a decision to leave his name on the register.
Mr Brokenshire said: "We will make sure we have a process that is robust, workable and puts public protection first, while at the same time preventing sex offenders being able to waste taxpayers' money by repeatedly challenging our laws. Most importantly, sex offenders who continue to pose a risk will remain on the register and will do so for life if necessary."
Meanwhile, the department announced fresh restrictions on registered sex offenders. If they say they are of "no fixed abode", they will have to tell police weekly, rather than yearly, where they can be tracked down.