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Sex Offenders Change Name to Avoid Detection

View profile for Malcolm Underhill
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Sex Offenders Change Name to Avoid Detection

Whatever steps are taken by government, institutions, organisations and individuals, to prevent paedophiles getting access to children and young people, paedophiles will continue to look for ways in which they can circumvent the hurdles and barriers that we put in place to protect our children.

Sex Offenders Register

One step taken to protect children, is that following conviction of a sex offender, their details will be entered onto the Sex Offenders Register. Within a few days of conviction or release from custody, the individual is required to make a report to police, giving their name(s), address, place and date of birth, details of conviction and offence and passport details. With their name entered on the register, employers and others should have a high degree of confidence that when they receive a response to an enquiry of the Disclosure and Barring Service. However, that relies upon the system working.

A report from The Times in July 2021 revealed they had been shown examples of convicted paedophiles changing their name by deed poll, failing to inform the appropriate authorities and then using their new identity to get close to children.

Under the current law, it is not illegal for a convicted paedophile to change their name, although they must report that they have done so.   Research reported upon in 2020 showed that 1300 sex offenders, on the register, had given notification of changing their name.

The Safeguarding Alliance published research (covering 2017-2019) in July 2020, showing that hundreds of sex offenders had disappeared from the police monitoring process. The location of 913 sex offenders was not known. At that time, there was concern that these individuals were exploiting their new identities to reoffend. 

Sex Offenders Re-offending

The report from The Times gave two examples of convicted child sex offenders gaining work in schools where they committed sexual offending. Both individuals were reported as being British teachers who have been convicted of child sex abuse and placed on the sex offenders register. Both men had changed their name by deed poll, obtained a passport and in one instance, security clearance from the DBS to work with children.

Limit the Right to Change Your Name

The Safeguarding Alliance stated, in 2020, that it would petition MPs to “revoke the right of registered sex offenders to change their name by deed poll”.

In 2020, a Home Office spokesperson said: "We are determined to prevent serious criminals from hiding their pasts and will not tolerate sex offenders trying to evade the justice system.

"Sex offenders who fail to tell police of a name change already face tough prison sentences.

"We are working with the courts and DBS to ensure measures are strengthened and continuously reviewed in order to protect the public."

Sarah Champion, the Rotherham MP, has been campaigning to close “this gaping hole in safeguarding”.

In a Parliamentary debate, on 17 June 2021, she said, “My suggestions is for all sex offenders to have a marker on their file at the DVLA and at Her Majesty’s Passport Office, that would mean that would be flagged on the DBS database. That would remove the onus from the sex offender so that if they breach their notification requirements, the police will know quickly. I accept that more resources would be needed for this to be effective, but surely it is worth funding to prevent more adults and children from experiencing more traumatic abuse.”

In July 2021 the Home Office announced a “time-limited review” of name changes “to better understand whether current processes are being exploited”.

Next Steps to Close the Gaping Hole in Safeguarding

My hope is that the government will act swiftly, to close the loophole, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent a convicted paedophile, a convicted sex offender, from changing the name.

If convicted sex offenders are permitted to continue to change their name, all agencies must be notified to ensure this device is not exploited by paedophiles to gain access to more children. Children should be able to rely upon adults, our politicians, to protect them.

Please write to your local MP to support this campaign

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