FIVE convicted sex offenders have been “lost” by police in Lancashire, according to new figures.
One of those has been missing for seven years, another disappeared in 2009 and the other three vanished off the constabulary radar in 2012 and 2013. Most are believed to be out of the country.
The Lancashire five are among almost 400 sex offenders who are currently unaccounted for across the UK. The revelations followed a Freedom of Information request to all the nation’s police forces.
All 39 forces who responded refused to name individuals in their areas who were no longer making themselves available for regular monitoring. But, while some were prepared to talk about the issue, Lancashire Constabulary declined to be interviewed about the figures. They issued a statement which said: “We regularly work with the media to reach out to the public in order to locate missing sex offenders when appropriate.
“Each case is dealt with on its merits, as we have to balance the obvious benefits of reaching a wide audience who can assist us locate offenders, against the risks posed by such actions.
“For example there can be a heightened risk of vigilante action against the offender, who in effect is ‘outed’ as a sexual offender overtly by the police. Despite this we have had a great deal of success via media outlets in tracing offenders. In the most part, the offenders have seen the appeals themselves and quickly hand themselves into police.
“Most of our currently outstanding sex offenders are known to be out of the country. They are however regularly reviewed to ascertain if this is still the case.”
The figures, gathered by the Press Association, show 167 of the missing 394 sex offenders are from the Metropolitan Police area. West Midlands came second with 39 and Greater Manchester third on 23.
Sara Payne, whose daughter Sarah was abducted and killed in 2000 by a convicted paedophile, said the figures were unacceptable. “It’s time to take some serious proactive action to bring them back under the police radar.”