Record number on sex offenders register

The number of criminals on the sex offenders register has reached a record high and those breaching the terms of their release has increased for the third year in a row.

The Scottish Government’s Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) annual report 2010/11 revealed that the number of registered sex offenders in Scotland has reached 3,098.

The number of sex offenders reported for breaches of notification has increased to 192 this year after the previous two years’ figures of 136 (2009) and 178 (2010).

The report also shows that 39 sex offenders were convicted of a further violent or sexual crime.

Earlier this week, statistics showed a rise in the number of sex crimes, with crimes of rape recorded by police hitting a ten-year high.

Labour has called for a comprehensive strategy for dealing with short and long-term sex offenders in Scotland’s prisons, echoing comments by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Hugh Monro following a recent inspection of Dumfries prison.

The party’s justice spokesman James Kelly said: “Dealing with sex offenders is a notoriously difficult task, but to see the number of sex offenders breaching their conditions increase for the third year in a row is extremely alarming.

“With a record number of sex offenders at liberty, a record number breaching the conditions of their release and sex crimes at a ten-year high, the SNP Government cannot ignore the recommendation of HM Inspector of Prisons any longer.

“I urge the SNP Government to bring forward a comprehensive strategy to deal with sex offenders in Scotland’s prisons as a matter of urgency.”

Conservative justice spokesman John Lamont said: “Put simply, more must be done to keep the public safe.

“It is bad enough that sex offenders sent to jail for fixed terms are often set free after half or even less of their sentence. It is worse that when they do walk free more is not done to monitor them.

“Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly called for the use of GPS monitoring of dangerous sex offenders so that when they are released we can track their movements.

“Dangerous criminals who abscond should also have their photograph made public and published on the ‘most wanted’ website. The SNP can and must do more.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Sexual crimes and offences are among the most abhorrent crimes imaginable – that is why we are continually improving the way we deal with sex offenders and the threat they present.

“Scotland has one of the most robust systems of managing sex offenders in the world and the MAPPA arrangements have strengthened how police, social work and other agencies work together to assess, monitor and reduce risks posed by convicted sex offenders.

“Reports of breaches of notification reflects the zero tolerance approach taken by the agencies managing these offenders.

“If an offender fails to register as prescribed in the registration requirements they will be reported to the procurator fiscal.”