Exclusive: More than 1,200 sex offenders removed from register after police appeals

An exclusive Good Morning Britain investigation has revealed that in the last six years 1,230 sex offenders, put on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely, have succeeded in getting themselves removed from the register.

And more than half of those criminals, 632, have committed offences against children.

These offenders now no longer have to report their movements to the police or tell them if they plan to leave the country, change address or spend more than a week away from home. They are also no longer subject to home visits.

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Campaigner Denise Fergus, mother of James Bulger, thanked GMB for investigating the issue and voiced her fury at the findings.

Speaking exclusively to GMB, she said: "I was shocked to read the findings from the Good Morning Britain investigation and I am disgusted that people are able to start a process to be removed from the sex offenders’ register.

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“The figures are very daunting when you look at each county and see the amount of applications that have been made and how many are actually successful in being removed from the register. Many of these are for offences against children and that child and their family will be victims for life, so why should the offender have the ability to be removed? Surely if you are put on the sex offender register for life, your offences are so serious you should remain on there for life."

Anyone sentenced to more that 30 months for a sexual crime used to be placed on the register for life. But in 2012, a change in the law meant that offenders given indefinite notification orders had the right to appeal after 15 years, or after 8 years if a juvenile at the time of the offence.

The number on the sex offender register has risen 82 per cent from 30,416 in 2006/07 to 55,236 in 2016-17, a report from the Ministry of Justice showed.

- 1,902 removal appeals

The Freedom of Information request by GMB has revealed that since that time, of the 28 police forces that responded, 1,902 appeals have been made and two thirds, 1,230, were granted. 632 of those had committed offences against someone under 16. A further 17 forces, including Lancashire and Essex, have so far failed to answer the request.

Examples of people no longer on the register include an offender who raped a boy aged under 13 and the rapist of a girl under 16. There were also 11 women who were successful in being removed from the register.

Many of the forces were unable to say whether anyone taken off the list had gone on to re-offend. In fact, Scotland was the ONLY force that could tell us that three offenders removed from the register went on to commit further offences, including a rapist who was found in possession of extreme pornography and a former offender found to have taken indecent photographs of children.

The appeal process varied widely from force to force, for example North Wales granted 34 out of 36 appeals, 32 of whom had victims under the age of 16. Whereas Cleveland granted just 5 out of 17 appeals.