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Fears raised over sex offenders on the loose in Dorset
CONCERNS have been raised about how authorities can keep tabs on four sex offenders who are homeless in Dorset.
The offenders, whose identities will not be revealed by the police, are registered as of ‘no fixed abode’ – which a leading figure in child protection says makes them ‘difficult to assess and monitor’.
The police have also revealed that 33 Registered Sex Offenders (RSOs) moved to Dorset in 2013 and three sex offenders are currently missing or wanted, sparking more concern.
Dorset Police has refused to tell the Echo how dangerous any of these sex offenders are because the ‘public interest argument for withholding the information considerably outweighs those in favour of disclosure’.
Sex offenders are managed by the Dorset Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements Management Board (MAPPA) and categorised according to their threat to the public. But the police say they can’t reveal the level of any of these offenders because 'it would reveal information to the RSOs, which could be used to their advantage’.
MAPPA publishes a report about the number of sex offenders in the county and their ‘level’– a scale dependant on how much monitoring they need.
Level one offenders need ordinary agency management, level two is where the active involvement of more than one agency is required. Level three is where senior oversight is required to monitor an offender.
We asked the police two questions – the level of the RSOs listed as homeless and the level of the RSOs listed as missing.
But the police say they can’t reveal the level of any of these offenders because ‘it would reveal information to the RSOs, which could be used to their advantage.’ They say the offenders would be able to ‘adjust their behaviour to avoid detection.’ They also say that homeless people are a vulnerable group and someone could be identified, either rightly or wrongly, as one of the offenders.
The Echo was prompted to investigate how many sex offenders in the county don’t have a fixed address following the imprisonment of rapist Mark Gillard.
Gillard was convicted in 1998 and was put on the sex offenders’ register, requiring him to tell the police where he is living.
He moved from Southampton to Dorset last year, failing to keep officers informed.
Since August 2012, it has been a legal requirement for sex offenders who are of ‘no fixed abode’ to check in with the police every week.
Registrants must inform the police within three days if they change their address or name or register as homeless.
Margaret Morrissey of Parents Outloud said it was ‘scandalous’.
She added: “If there are sex offenders of no fixed abode, how can they be monitored effectively?
‘Very difficult to monitor’
THE chief executive of children’s safety charity Kidscape, Claude Knights, said sex offenders are ‘at their most volatile and dangerous when they are living in chaotic and unsettled circumstances’.
She said authorities have a ‘duty of care to potential victims’ to make sure they are keeping track of offenders.
Mrs Knights added: “Registered sex offenders who are of no fixed abode are very difficult to assess and monitor.
“The multi-agency public protection arrangements, which are set in motion when sex offenders are released, depend upon the ability of the different agencies to have regular and sustained contact with those individuals. The safety of our communities depends on predators being on the appropriate radars.”
According to the latest MAPPA report, there are 599 sex offenders in Dorset – an increase on the previous year. Of those, 17 were cautioned for breach of notification requirements in 2012-2013.
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