Monday, March 05, 2012

(UK) Sex offenders forced to ask permission to go on foreign holiday

Sex offenders forced to ask permission to go on foreign holiday
Sex offenders will have to ask permission to go on a foreign holiday and tell police if they are living with a child, under new plans. 
By Christopher Hope
The Telegraph - March 5, 2012 

If they are homeless they will also have to report to police on a weekly basis so they cannot go missing and offend again. 
Currently they can go on holiday for three days or less without telling the police. However under the changes, which should be law by the summer, any overseas travel will have to be cleared by the police. 
The measures announced by the Home Office are designed to close loopholes identified with the operation of the Sex Offenders’ Register. 
Ministers also published new rules to take into account a ruling by the Supreme Court in April 2010 that those on the register for life should have the right to apply for a review. 
James Brokenshire, a Home Office minister, said: “We are doing everything we can to protect the public from predatory sex offenders by tightening the law and closing loopholes.
“At the same time we will continue to do the minimum necessary to abide by the Supreme Court ruling. 

“We will make sure we have a process that is robust, workable and puts public protection first, while at the same time preventing sex offenders being able to waste taxpayers’ money by repeatedly challenging our laws. 

“Most importantly sex offenders who continue to pose a risk will remain on the register and will do so for life if necessary.” 

Currently sex offenders can give their permanent address as a park bench or bus stop will have to report to police every week under Government plans. 

Freed sex offenders, including paedophiles, can also give a rough location such as “somewhere in the woods” if they are homeless. 

They will now have to “notify the police weekly where they can be found when they have no fixed abode [and] notify the police when they are living with a child under the age of 18”. 

The dodge emerged in 2006 after a convicted sex offender went missing after telling police he would be living rough in Kent. He was eventually tracked down in Devon and taken to court, where he received a conditional discharge. 

Sex offenders will also have to “notify the police of all foreign travel” for more than three days and present their passport, bank account and credit card details when they notify the police so they cannot avoid the restrictions by changing their names by deed poll. 

Moves to close loopholes in the existing regime come as figures showed the whereabouts of nearly 850 registered sex offenders were unknown. 

A total of 843 people on the register were missing as of September 1 last year, with 690 having been untraceable for more than 12 months, according to figures from a Freedom of Information request to the National Policing Improvement Agency. 

It also showed the number of missing registered sex offenders has more than doubled in two years, with just 356 missing on September 1 2009. 

The Home Office also confirmed plans for police chiefs to review requests from paedophiles and rapists to be removed from the sex offenders register after 15 years. 

Thousands of sex offenders will be able to apply to have their names removed after the Supreme Court ruled it was a breach of offenders' human rights to be put on the register for life with no review. 

Government plans to give people the right to ask police about a partner's history have been condemned as a waste of money by a leading domestic violence charity. 

Refuge warned the cost of setting up “Clare’s Law” pilot schemes in Greater Manchester, Gwent, Nottinghamshire and Wiltshire could outweigh the benefits. 

Home Secretary Theresa May said the fact that two people were killed by their current or former partner each week in England and Wales showed the need for action. 

It comes after a campaign for a change in the law to help protect women from domestic abuse by Michael Brown, whose daughter, Clare Wood, was strangled and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend, George Appleton, at her home in Salford in 2009. Appleton then went on the run before hanging himself. 

Refuge said that in a time of austerity “we can't afford the luxury of expensive and untested new scheme”. 

Sandra Horley, the charity's chief executive, said: "We are at an absolute loss as to why the Government is introducing the new disclosure scheme. 

“It seems to have ignored the concerns of the leading domestic violence organisations and those of Liberty. The new disclosure scheme simply isn't supported by any of us with the expertise to judge its chances of success.”

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