WORRYING TRUTH ABOUT FOREIGN CRIMINALS; This Man Is a Convicted Rapist Who Entered the UK without Any Checks and Killed a Schoolgirl Is There Any Way We Can Stop Others like Him? NO

The Mirror (London, England), March 31, 2006 | Go to article overview

WORRYING TRUTH ABOUT FOREIGN CRIMINALS; This Man Is a Convicted Rapist Who Entered the UK without Any Checks and Killed a Schoolgirl Is There Any Way We Can Stop Others like Him? NO


Byline: By MATT ROPER

THE rape and murder of West London schoolgirl Jeshma Raithatha by a convicted serial sex attacker has raised the question: how did a man with such a violent past slip across the Channel unchallenged?

In a statement this week the 17-year-old's family demanded: "What checks were made on his background before he was allowed to set foot on British soil?"

The answer is: none.

Sex predator Viktors Dembovskis, 43, was welcomed to Britain from Latvia - despite spending more than 20 years in prison.

Thanks to a loophole in European law he was able to live here without anyone knowing the danger he posed.

The case has infuriated victim support groups, which have been begging for a Europe-wide system to track dangerous criminals for years.

And Damien Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: "This is a truly awful case. It shows the need for continuous co-operation between police forces internationally."

Here we look at how such a thing was possible - and what has to be done to stop it happening again.

How did a convicted sex criminal enter Britain?

DEMBOVSKIS came to Britain in November 2004, five months after Latvia joined the EU. Local police in his homeland lost track of him and were apparently unaware that he had travelled abroad. There were no automatic checks on his movements and he wasn't legally obliged to inform the Latvian authorities of his intention to travel abroad.

With no Europe-wide agreement to pass on information about criminals, he had his slate wiped clean as he crossed our borders.

Police had no idea a double rapist who had spent more than two decades behind bars was living in London.

How big is the problem?

ANYONE'S guess. The expansion of the EU saw tens of thousands of eastern Europeans migrating to Britain to find work under a free movement agreement.

But no provision was made to prevent the entry of undesirables like murderers and rapists, meaning that an unknown number could have slipped into Britain.

In January Josef Zygmunt Kurek, a Pole who had served nine years for raping a policeman's daughter, was convicted of raping a 25-year-old woman in Llanelli, south Wales.

And after the rape and murder of student Sally Geeson, 22, on New Year's Eve last year, police revealed they were unaware murderer David Atkinson had a previous conviction for sexual assault in Germany.

Can British rapists go abroad unannounced?

NO. In 2003 the government replaced Britain's outdated sex laws with the new Sex Offences Act and a foreign travel banning order enables courts to prohibit certain offenders from travelling abroad.

In any case sex offenders have to give a week's notice before going abroad for more than three days, giving Britain time to warn foreign authorities if they think it will prevent an offence being committed.

The Act also forces "sex tourists" convicted of sex crimes abroad to comply with the sex offenders' register, even if they have committed no crime in the UK.

Individuals on the register who travel abroad without telling the authorities face up to five years in jail. …

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