Police unable to keep tabs on all 'monitored' sex offenders due to officer shortages

Express, 15 June 2024, Jon Austen

A senior coroner said there is now a "postcode lottery" of risk from more than 91,000 criminals who require regular checks.

CONVICTED sex offenders released from jail are not being properly monitored because of police cuts, it has been warned.

A senior coroner said there is now a “postcode lottery” of risk from more than 91,000 criminals who require regular checks.

Many forces are struggling to staff units dedicated to monitoring them.

They are having to prioritise who they keep tabs on because of shortages and a rise in numbers of those being released.

Fears emerged during an inquest into the death of vulnerable Elizabeth McCann, 26, who was raped and strangled by convicted sex offender Simon Goold at his flat in Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside in August 2022.

Greater Manchester Police was criticised over its monitoring of Goold, who was on a life licence after being released from a jail term for rape in 2019.

In a report, South Manchester’s Senior Coroner Alison Mutch warned: “The inquest was told that a significant number of police forces were struggling to staff their Sexual Offender Management Units adequately.

The level of supervision of sex offenders in the community was being ‘risk managed’, which is posing a risk to communities.”

Latest figures show there were 91,040 registered sex offenders requiring multi-agency monitoring by the end of March 2023.

With levels growing annually there are fears that number will top 100,000 by 2029. The rise is due to an increasing number of people caught with indecent images of children, and other online offending.

There were 147,000 officers in England and Wales in 2010, but under Tory Coalition cuts this shrunk to under 127,000 by 2018. A push to recruit 20,000 new officers by last year saw levels rise to around 150,000.

However, Elizabeth’s inquest was told staffing issues had been known by senior police managers for many years, with a decision taken to manage far below appropriate staffing numbers.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “While of little consolation to Elizabeth’s family, our Sex Offender Management Unit has since doubled in size.”

A spokeswoman for Women Against Rape said: “It’s not a one-off. The coroner warns of the risk of future murders. This man was a danger to women. Police and probation staff were careless, untrained, unsupervised.”

The National Police Chiefs Council said: “Policing in the UK has a number of effective tools to manage registered sex offenders