POLICE SHIELD SEX OFFENDERS; Dangerous Criminals on the Run but Detectives Keep Names and Details Secret. in Case the Convicts' Human Rights Are Trampled; 12 Sex Offenders 'On the Run'

Article excerpt

Byline: Graham Grant Home Affairs Editor

POLICE are refusing to name a dozen missing sex offenders - to protect the human rights of rapists and paedophiles.

The Scottish Daily Mail has already revealed that registered sex offenders are reconvicted of violent and sexual crimes, on average, almost once a week.

There are 12 currently unaccounted for, having vanished from the police radar.

But detectives say they cannot name them unless there is a risk to public safety - because of their 'sensitive and complex' needs.

Last night, Scottish Tory justice spokesman Margaret Mitchell said: 'This again highlights the problem with the Sex Offenders Register.

'Police need to know where these people are and what they are doing. That is why the register is there. As long as they are doing that and toeing the line, they can keep their anonymity.

'But those who don't play by the rules should be exposed - they have completely lost that right by not complying with the order.' Information obtained by the Scottish Daily Mail shows 12 sex offenders are either missing - meaning they have failed to keep in touch with the authorities - or are actively evading the law. Nine are 'known to be outside the UK'.

A separate Scottish Government report recently revealed record numbers of sex offenders are living in the community and more and more of them are breaching the terms of their release - for example, by failing to notify police of their whereabouts. When the Mail asked for the identities of the 12 fugitives, police refused to hand over names and photographs as individual cases are never discussed.

But a Police Scotland spokesman said: 'Public safety is always the main priority in all cases. Whilst it remains the main priority, a balance is required between public safety and the rights of the individual.

'All aspects of cases are carefully considered at every stage of the process, from psychological and risk assessments to places of residence and potential security issues.'

The spokesman also suggested the 'sensitive and complex' nature of the cases was a barrier to publicising their identities. He said: 'We prioritise warrants and those who are deemed a greater risk will be given extensive police attention and action.

'Sex offenders are monitored in the community under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) which involve the police service, local authorities, the NHS, Scottish Prison Service and other partners. …