Sex offenders register provides limited protection for children

Jun 11, 2008

The UK's Sex Offenders Register is failing to protect vulnerable children, according to a psychologist at the University of Liverpool.

Researchers say that while police are using their resources to combat Internet sex offences - which are much easier to secure convictions for - the majority of men alleged to have directly sexually abused a child are still avoiding prosecution. Currently only one in 10 men alleged to have committed a sex offence with a child is on the Sex Offenders Register. This, says Professor Kevin Browne, is leaving vulnerable children open to unmonitored paedophile predators.

Professor Browne, who is a forensic child psychologist, said: "This makes the debate on notifying communities of registered sex offenders meaningless. Adequate police resources are being used to detect Internet sex crimes where computer evidence of men downloading child pornography is easy to obtain and easier to secure a conviction for. But UK research shows that only six per cent of those arrested are linked to the much more severe sexual assaults on children.

"The compliance level for offenders on the Sex Offenders Register is high, with 97 percent notifying police of their location details. The problem is that with a conviction rate of less than 10 per cent for alleged contact sex offences, more than 90 per cent of men at risk of molesting children are essentially at large and unmonitored.

"The police need more funds to combat sex offenders who directly sexually abuse children. With additional resources available, more police time can be spent securing convictions and effectively monitoring convicted sex offenders in the community. This investment could reduce sexual assaults on children throughout the UK.

"Official statistics put the number of child victims of sexual abuse in England at two in every 10,000 but an NSPCC survey of young adults' childhood experiences shows the figure to be a lot higher at 11 children in every 100. This suggests that most sexual assaults on children go undetected and for every one child identified as a victim of sexual abuse there are 549 child victims who have suffered in silence.

"Most men who directly assault children do so in secret which makes contact sex offenders difficult to convict and without more police resources to tackle this problem the Sex Offenders Register will remain of limited use for the protection of children. On average, child molesters in prison admit to six years of undetected contact sex offences before their first conviction".

Professor Browne added: "Police resourcing issues are compounded by the fact that any person convicted of a sexual crime before the implementation of the Sex Offender's Register in 1997 is not required to register. These men may be unknown to the authorities today."

Source: University of Liverpool

Explore further: Brain activity provides evidence for internal 'calorie counter'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Celebrity photo hackers 'committed sex crime'

Sep 04, 2014

Those behind the massive leak of naked celebrity photos that shocked the show business world could and should be prosecuted, including for child sex crimes, experts said Wednesday.

Google defends child porn tip-offs to police

Aug 05, 2014

Google defended its policy of electronically monitoring its users' content for child sexual abuse after it tipped off police in Texas to a child pornography suspect.

Recommended for you

Aspirin shown to benefit schizophrenia treatment

15 hours ago

A new study shows that some anti-inflammatory medicines, such as aspirin, estrogen, and Fluimucil, can improve the efficacy of existing schizophrenia treatments. This work is being presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology ...

User comments : 0