Suffolk home to 489 sex offenders

PUBLIC protection figures show the number of sex offenders living in Suffolk has increased by a third in the last five years.

An annual report published by national probation service MAPPA (Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements) revealed that 489 people are required to sign the sex offenders register, compared to 368 in 2005.

The steady rise has been put down to newly convicted offenders being required to sign, as well as previously convicted sex criminals who have remained on the register for several years - some for life.

Due to the length of time offenders remain on the register there are more names added than taken off each year.

The rise could also be explained by the inclusion of low level offenders on the register for the first time.

There are now around 77 registered sex offenders (RSOs) per 100,000 head of population in Suffolk, compared to 54 per 100,000 in 2005. The number of violent offenders also rose marginally in the last year from 82 to 86.

RSOs are required to notify the police of their name, address and other personal details and notify any changes subsequently. Failure to comply with the notification requirements is a criminal offence which carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment.

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In the last year, 18 RSOs breached licence requirements after being released into the community following a period of 12 months or more in prison.

In 2005, the number of sex offenders either cautioned or convicted for breaches of the requirement was 12.

Of the 489 RSOs living in Suffolk, 456 are guilty of lower level offences (level one); 31 were convicted of more serious offences (level two) like rape or child abuse and were sentenced to 12 months or more in prison or detained under Hospital Orders; and two committed other offences (level three) considered to pose a risk of serious harm to the public.

An extra two police officers have been appointed at Suffolk Constabulary to run the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Process, which allows anyone concerned someone with access to children is a sex offender to apply for disclosure. Following checks, police may then inform the children's carer if the children are at risk.

Suffolk Constabulary's Assistant Chief Constable and MAPPA chairman, Gary Kitching, said: 'There are no easy solutions with offenders having such complex histories and multiple needs, but here we see detailed sentence planning, careful monitoring and swift intervention before behaviour escalates to serious reoffending.'

Suffolk MAPPA manager Tim Sykes said: 'Once again it has been a good year for MAPPA in Suffolk. We have successfully managed over 500 cases and none of the county's most high risk cases have committed any further serious offences.'

The official Ministry of Justice figures also show that the number of registered sex offenders in England and Wales rose by more than 2,500 in 2009/10 to 34,939.

Nationally, a total of 196 convicted violent or sex offenders were charged with a further offence of murder, rape or other serious crime while under the supervision of the probation service.

None of the Suffolk's most high risk cases have committed any further serious offences.

March 2005 March 2006 March 2007 March 2008 March 2009 March 2010

RSOs (registered sex offenders) in Suffolk: 368 393 413 436 439 489

RSOs per 100,000 head of population: 54 58 61 64 65 77.13

Offenders breaching registration requirement: 12 11 16 3 12 18