More than 700 sex offenders missing or wanted over three years
More than 700 sex offenders went missing or were wanted for arrest over three year period – with 1,500 changing their name after their conviction, figures show
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Hundreds of registered sex offenders have gone missing in three years, police figures reveal.
Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the BBC shows that 729 offenders vanished or were wanted for arrest between 2019 and 2021.
Separate figures from 21 forces showed 1,500 sex offenders had changed their name after they were convicted.
This is legal but registered sex offenders must tell the police of the change, or they could face five years in prison.
However, campaigners say it leaves abusers free to go on to reoffend in their new identity.
Sex offender Terry Price exploited the system to change his name twice
Della Wright, who he abused, said: ‘It shouldn’t be for victims and survivors to beg Government to do something about this’
Della Wright, who was abused at the age of six by a man who later changed his name and targeted more children, told the BBC that current criminal records checks provide a false sense of security.
She said the current system, that allowed her attacker Terry Price to change his name twice, is open to abuse.
‘It shouldn’t be for victims and survivors to beg Government to do something about this,’ she said. ‘We’re still having to ask in 2023.’
Lauren-Eden Sullivan was abused by her father, Shaun Dallisson, and has also waived her right to anonymity.
He was jailed for eight years in 2014 but has changed his name and moved to a new area after being released on licence.
She insists registered sex offenders should be banned from changing their names.
‘It’s not something that ever leaves the victim so why should the person that’s done it be able to escape it so easily,’ she said.
Lauren-Eden Sullivan was abused by her father, Shaun Dallisson, and has also bravely waived her right to anonymity
Currently, the onus is on offenders to notify forces of changes in name or address.
When they change name and fail to tell police – which is an offence – they can get a new driving licence and passport in the new name.
They can also get new criminal record checks so past offences go undetected.
Labour MP Sarah Champion has called on Home Secretary Suella Braverman to ensure markers are put on all sex offenders’ files at the Passport Office and DVLA.
Campaign group The Safeguarding Alliance says allowing offenders to change their name undermines laws that are designed to protect victims by allowing the police to provide information about criminals with histories of domestic violence or child abuse.
It has highlighted the ‘serious safeguarding loophole’ that it says ‘makes a mockery of the legal system’.
‘It’s not something that ever leaves the victim so why should the person that’s done it be able to escape it so easily,’ Ms Sullivan said
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Public protection is a priority for this Government and we have some of the toughest powers in the world to deal with sex offenders.
‘To ensure registered sex offenders cannot hide their criminal past, they must notify police of their personal details every year and whenever they change – this includes any name changes. Failure to comply, including providing false information, is a criminal offence punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.
‘We have further strengthened the regime for managing registered sex offenders and those who pose a risk through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act.’
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