Suffolk: Rapists taken off sex offenders’ register after human rights challenge

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- Credit: Archant

POLICE chiefs have criticised European lawmakers after it was revealed four sex offenders – including two rapists – have been removed from the the Sex Offenders’ Register in Suffolk on human rights grounds.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, warned “the floodgates might now open” after a human rights ruling allowed sex offenders to apply to come off the register, claiming they no longer posed a threat.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that the automatic lifetime inclusion breached the Human Rights Act. It came into effect on September 1 last year after an appeal ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron was rejected.

Figures, released under freedom of information laws, showed Suffolk police have since received four requests from sex offenders asking to be removed from the register. All four were approved.

The force said it would not reveal their names or any further information – other than two were related to rape offences – because of privacy laws.

Mr Passmore said: “I am extremely unhappy that the European Court of Human Rights is able to overrule our law.

“I find it completely unacceptable that an unelected and unaccountable body is dictating to us. We are a sovereign nation. We should be able to make our own rules.

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“It’s not right European courts have this higher power. How have we got to this state? It undermines public confidence and ties police up in knots. It needs to be changed – and quickly.”

Currently anyone jailed for 30 months or more for a sex offence is automatically put on the register for an indefinite period.

Their names, addresses, date of birth and national insurance number are recorded, and they must inform police in person of any changes or if they wish to leave the country.

But sex offenders can now appeal to be removed from the register 15 years after their release from prison.

Mr Passmore said: “The floodgates might open now. More sex offenders are going to ask to come off the register. I’m very angry about this.

“Imagine if a member of your family was a victim of rape – how would you feel about this issue? They will be able to move around without being checked and might reoffend. What about the victim’s human rights?”

Fiona Ellis, co-founder of Ipswich-based Survivors in Transition (SiT), branded the new law “unfair”.

“Victims are given a life sentence so sex offenders should remain on the list permanently,” she added.

Cath Elliott, volunteer co-ordinator at Suffolk Rape Crisis, said the welfare of sexual offenders is going above the concern for public safety.

“How is it decided that sex offenders are no longer a danger or no longer need to be monitored? It’s appalling,” she added.

Detective Superintendent Alan Caton said detectives get a full picture of the risks to the public when reviewing cases.

“Factors that can support the approval of an applicant being removed are their age and if they have not reoffended during their time on the register,” he added.

“In these four cases officers at Suffolk and representatives from partner agencies were content that the applicants no longer posed a risk to the public and that our efforts would be better concentrated on those who continue to pose a higher risk.

“Members of the public should be reassured that sex offenders who we believe continue to pose a risk will remain on the register.”

Police say it was not possible to seek the views of victims due to how old the offences were - but said better recording systems for more recent offences would enable that in the future.

The news comes after the EADT reported yesterday how four in five serious sexual offences went unsolved in Suffolk in 2012/13.

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