More than seven hundred sex offenders slipped off the radar of police forces over a three-year period

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Many registered sex offenders are “escaping” the authorities because they have changed their names.

The BBC’s Shared Data Unit has revealed that more than seven hundred sex offenders have slipped off the radar of police forces across the country over a three-year period.

MP Sarah Champion has described the situation as a scandal and said the key reason so many offenders went missing was because they had changed their names.

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Abuse survivors are campaigning for a new law which bans sex offenders from changing their names to escape the authorities and their pasts.

Using requests under the Freedom of Information Act, the BBC found that 729 registered sex offenders (RSOs) have either been recorded by police as having gone missing or were wanted for arrest in the last three financial years.

Here in the North East, Northumbria Police has reported a rise in the number of RSOs since the financial year of 2019/20 when 1,671 registered sex offenders were living in the force area.

This grew to 1,800 the following year and again, up to 1,901 in the financial year for 2021/22.

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Northumbria Police has revealed that the number of offences relating to failure to comply with the notification requirement by RSOs was 303 in 2019/20, which then dropped to 76 in 2020/21 before rising again to 196 in 2021/22.

The force brought 96 prosecutions against RSOs for breaching a sexual harm prevention order, interim order, or foreign travel order in the financial year of 2019-20.

In 2020-21, there was 112 and then a drop to 93 in 2021-22.

The numbers of RSOs who went missing from the Northumbria Police area or were wanted for arrest because their whereabouts were unknown was low across the full three-year period.

In 2019/20, three registers sex orders went missing, one in 2020/21, and four in 2021/22.

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Northumbria Police has stated that RSOs who go “missing” are immediately classed as wanted due to breaching their notification requirements.

A force spokesperson told the BBC: “We do not class RSO’s the same as a “missing” persons.

“Any RSO who has failed to register as part of their notification requirements would be immediately in breach of their notification and would be classed as wanted.

“A warrant and arrest would be expedited immediately once identified and this is treat as a priority.”

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