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Where have 396 sex offenders gone?

Questions need to be asked following the missing sex offenders scandal

10 March 2015

A leading abuse lawyer has said more needs to be done after it was announced that almost 400 registered sex offenders in the UK are completely untraceable.

Nichola Marshall, head of the International Abuse team at Leigh Day has demanded the Government do more to curb the number of sex offenders who do not notify the probation service if they change address. 

Ms Marshall also raised concerns about the use of foreign travel bans and how they are enforced after a Scotland Yard spokesperson also revealed that a large number of these sex offenders were thought to have travelled abroad.

The international abuse team at Leigh Day are currently representing 31 alleged victims of Simon Harris, who had been reported to the police in the 1980s for abusing boys at a school where he taught, allegations to which he pleaded guilty to at Birmingham Crown Court last year.

He was convicted in 2009 for possession of indecent images of children and served a 15 month jail term.  Despite this, he was able to evade the authorities by forging documents giving him permission to return to Kenya.

When in Kenya, Harris set up a charity as a guise under which he sexually abused street children, raping them after luring them to his house with the promise of food and shelter. 

Harris was sentenced to over 17 years in prison earlier this month.

Nichola Marshall, head of the International Abuse team team at Leigh Day, said

“We are aware of a many cases of British individuals who have committed sexual offences in the UK, managing to travel abroad to abuse children there. 

“This is a serious issue which the NCA and NGOs focussing on transnational child abuse have been trying to combat. 

“Their job is made all the more difficult when the task of keeping track of sex offenders in the UK is not carried out successfully. 

“It’s of the utmost importance that convicted sex offenders are monitored and where travel bans are in place, are prevented from travelling abroad.  If offenders are able to go missing so easily, it is time the Government put in place a better system.”

Should you want to discuss the issue of foreign abuse with one of our specialist team at Leigh Day, please contact Rebekah Read on 020 7650 1125 or rread@leighday.co.uk.

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