The BBC reported today (28th November 2013) that “London authorities lose track of 159 sex offenders”. Should we be worried?
Yvonne Traynor (from the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre) certainly is. She said that the figures were ‘appalling’. She also said that “Something needs to be done to bring these agencies together to make sure that perpetrators are brought to justice’.
Should we be concerned?
The figures I’ll use are that there are 4,651 sex offenders living in London. That’s based on a population of 7.4 million. In other words, less than 3.5% are off the radar. Take into account that (at least) 96 were living abroad, that is a total of 63, or 1.35% of sex offenders.
Of the rest, there is no indication what crimes they committed to get them on the register in the first place, there is no indication of the risk that they present, (some may well present no danger at all and many sex offenders don’t reoffend).
Also, there is no indication of how the authorities have lost track of them – low priority offenders who present a low risk may have moved address and not informed the police, but not for any nefarious purposes, some are homeless, some may be in prison for shoplifting and the relevant officer hasn’t been notified. Additionally, what are the reoffending rates for sex offenders? Is it higher for those that don’t comply with the register?
Mr Arbour says the offenders are sex offenders “such as rapists and paedophiles”. That is (quite possibly) misleading as we don’t know how many fall into that category.
The actual story is that there may be up to 63 sex offenders in London who have not registered with the authorities for one reason or another. This is 1.35% of registered sex offenders. As you walk around, as many as 0.0008% of the people out there may be sex offenders who have not complied with the conditions of the register. That story is a lot less ‘sexy’ but until we get a bit more information, this story reads like a scare story – don’t panic just yet. Keep calm and ask for the evidence.