Why does Lancashire have biggest proportion of sex offenders in the community?

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Recent figures have shown Lancashire houses the largest proportion of sex offenders and violent criminals in England and Wales, with 169 offenders per 100,000 residents.

Ministry of Justice figures shows as of March, 2,250 registered sex offenders were being managed under Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA).

MAPPA is a set of statutory arrangements established by the Prison, Police and Probation Services, in order to manage people who have committed the most serious sexual or violent crimes, with other organisations like housing, health, education, social care, youth offending teams, the DWP, immigration having a duty to co-operate with them.

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While the number of registered sex offenders continues to grow, with a 7% rise from 2,101 to 2,250 in 12 months, the MoJ says the growth rate has slowed.

Thousands of offenders are monitored under MAPPAThousands of offenders are monitored under MAPPA
Thousands of offenders are monitored under MAPPA

The figures only account for offenders in the community - if one were to add eligible offenders in the county’s prisons, such as HMP Wymott, or detained under the Mental Health Act, it would be even higher.

Prisoners who meet the criteria for MAPPA are identified around eight months prior to their planned release date or at the first parole hearing and given a level of 1, 2 or 3, depending on the level of risk, with 3 the most serious.

The decision to manage someone under MAPPA is based on information provided by the prison and other agencies and ensures the necessary resources are planned and made available before and after release.

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Reports are prepared and meetings held to plan how individuals will be supervised or supported.

Every offender who poses a high risk of serious harm to the public is managed by the probation service.

As well as restrictions to their lifestyle, travel and access to children or the internet, sexual offenders receive unannounced visits by police officers to monitor lifestyle, associations and changes in circumstances.

Recent successes mean several criminals caught not sticking to strict requirements have been punished at Preston Crown Court.

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Some of the 2,250 MAPPA subjects currently living in Lancashire won’t have offended here, as authorities usually need to locate offenders in areas away from victims, spreading them across the country.

Each community has to bear its ‘responsibility’, but why does our county seem to have the highest share?

In essence there is no easy answer. It is understood the picture for the whole country is taken into account by rather than an individual county, and the Ministry of Justice says there are ‘many variables’ that affect the proportion of offenders in a community at any one time.

This could include the number of court convictions, to prison releases, all of which can fluctuate from one year to another.

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In addition, a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice explains: “As sex offenders are required to register for long periods of time, many for life, the number monitored continues to grow as more are caught and convicted.”

Keith Crook, 47, of Chorley, got a suspended sentence and sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) in May 2019 after engaging in sexual communication with a decoy from paedophile hunting group he thought was 12.

It restricts his internet access and technology, and he is on the Sex Offender’s Register.

Protective visits since then have meant the authorities were able to detect several breaches, including having Snapchat on his phone, and he ended up back in court.

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Last week a judge deferred his sentence for six months to assess how he progresses.

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