Rise in registered sex offenders prompts new risk management approach

Rules for monitoring low-risk sex offenders are being relaxed so officers can devote more time to the most dangerous criminals in communities.

Jun 30, 2017

Rules for monitoring low-risk sex offenders are being relaxed so officers can devote more time to the most dangerous criminals in communities. Registered offenders will receive “personalised” risk management plans based on their likelihood of reoffending, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said. The new approach means low-risk offenders who have not broken the law for three years will not necessarily receive annual visits from officers. However, the most dangerous criminals will be more actively managed. Deputy Chief Constable Michelle Skeer, NPCC lead for Management of Sexual and Violent Offenders, said the UK has “some of the toughest powers in the world” for dealing with low-risk sex offenders. “It is important to remember that people will be on the sex offenders register for a range of crimes – it could be from downloading indecent images to contact offending,” she added. “There are also a wide range of factors that impact on the likelihood of an individual offending. “This means we need to take a tailored approach rather than following a one-size-fits-all model.” Figures from March 2016 show there are more than 52,000 registered sex offenders in England and Wales. This total has risen from 30,416 in 2006/7 – and is seven per cent higher than in 2014/15. Half of registered offenders are classed as low risk and receive annual visits, while 18 per cent have a high risk of reoffending. Around two per cent are graded ‘very high risk’ and must be monitored every month. The NPCC believes approximately 16,000 registered offenders could be eligible for ‘reactive management’, where they would only be visited if they show they are at risk of reoffending. They would still be monitored and subject to annual notification requirements at their local police stations. Academic research is being commissioned to ensure the new system works as intended. The NSPCC welcomed the new approach but raised concerns about its potential impact on child safeguarding. A spokesperson said: “Police are having to manage a growing number of registered sex offenders with ever tighter restraints on their time, resources and capacity. “While a bespoke risk assessment is a good development this cannot be at the expense of close supervision of those who have harmed children in the most despicable way.”

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