Hundreds of Scottish sex offenders ‘go AWOL’

Hundreds of sex offenders are failing to comply with conditions. Picture: Jon Savage.
Hundreds of sex offenders are failing to comply with conditions. Picture: Jon Savage.
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A rising number of serious sex offenders are breaking rules about telling the authorities of their whereabouts after being freed from prison, official figures have shown.

Hundreds of offenders “failed to comply” with notification requirements in line with their release last year.

There has also been an increase in the number of registered sex offenders going on to commit further sex or violent crimes after release.

Opposition parties are now calling for a review of the existing arrangements to “rectify the situation.”

Justice authorities insist that the reconviction rate is a fraction of the average across all crimes in Scotland and that a “zero tolerance” approach is taken over notification breaches.

The number of registered sex offenders living in the community reached 3,767 last year, an increase of 283 on the previous year, according to the national overview report into Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) in Scotland.

The numbers of offenders reported for failing to notify the authorities of their whereabouts reached 331 last year, which is up from 249 in 2013/14.

There were 69 offenders who were reconvicted of a violent or sex crime - up from 48 the previous year.

Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: “These statistics make for worrying reading. Clearly an urgent analysis needs to be carried out to establish what has gone wrong here and to rectify the situation. Once again, public confidence has been compromised under this majority SNP government.”

Libera Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes added: “What we have here is a situation where more serious offenders are failing to meet their reporting requirements and more are going on to commit further offences. Clearly the arrangements seem to be working in the vast majority of cases but it is important we look closely at what we can do to reverse these concerning trends.”

The report insists that 93 per cent of offenders complied with the notification requirements.

“The authorities take a zero tolerance approach where an offender fails to comply with the notification requirements as prescribed in the legislation and they will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal,” it added.