More than 6,500 registered sex offenders are living in London, figures reveal.

Police forces, probation services and other government agencies keep tabs on dangerous criminals living in communities using special management plans known as Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements.

Ministry of Justice figures show 6,581 registered sex offenders were being managed under MAPPA in the London Police area as of March 2020.

That is a rate of 85 offenders for every 100,000 people, well below the average for England and Wales, of 119.

Sex offenders sentenced to at least 30 months in prison remain on the register indefinitely – although some can apply to be removed after 15 years, following a change to the law in 2012.

London Police removed 36 people from the register following an application in 2019, with the number of sex offenders growing by 2 per cent from 2018-19.

Across England and Wales, 62,435 sex offenders are being monitored by police – an increase of 4 per cent on 2018-19.

🚨 Keep up to date with all the latest news by signing up to our newsletters here 🚨

The MoJ said this rise was because of increases in average custodial sentence length and the requirement for many sexual offenders to register for long periods of time.

The vast majority in London are classed as level one offenders, which means police and other agencies share information about them, but no special measures are required.

But offenders in London were placed in the level two category 30 times during 2019-20, meaning agencies have to hold regular meetings to discuss them, while three were deemed to be level three, the most serious kind.

These offenders pose such a big risk that additional resources such as specialised accommodation may be needed to manage them.

Registered sex offenders have to tell police of any changes to their circumstances, such as their address, foreign travel plans, and potential contact with children.

In London, 213 offenders were cautioned or convicted for failing to do in 2019.

The figures also show that 3,735 violent offenders – those who have committed crimes such as murder, kidnapping and grievous bodily harm – were living in London in March 2020.

But this could also include other sexual offenders who are not required to be on the register.

Abigail Gill, policy and public affairs manager at the NSPCC, said: “It’s vital the system is able to manage and monitor these offenders in the community to rehabilitate them and ensure children and young people are protected.

“Sexual abuse has an absolutely devastating impact on young lives and this strategy must focus on prevention and put the experiences and needs of children at its heart.”

What is Sarah's Law?

The child sex offender disclosure scheme in England and Wales (also sometimes known as “Sarah’s Law”), allows anyone to ask the police if someone with access to a child has a record for child sexual offences.

Police will reveal details confidentially to the person most able to protect the child (usually parents, carers or guardians) if they think it is in the child’s interests.

What is the background to the scheme?

The law was developed in consultation with Sara Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter Sarah was murdered by a convicted paedophile.

Sarah, who lived in Hersham, Surrey, disappeared on the evening of July 1, 2000 from a cornfield near the home of her paternal grandparents in Kingston Gorse, West Sussex.

A body was found on July 17, 2000 in a field near Pulborough, some 15 miles from Kingston Gorse where she had disappeared. It was confirmed as Sarah.

Wimbledon Times: Michael and Sara Payne, the parents of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne campaigned to bring the law into force in 2011 (PA)Michael and Sara Payne, the parents of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne campaigned to bring the law into force in 2011 (PA)

Roy Whiting was convicted of the abduction and murder of Sarah on December 12, 2001 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

After he was convicted, it was revealed that Whiting had previously abducted and sexually assaulted an eight-year-old girl and had served four years in prison for that crime.

Ms Payne campaigned to bring in a law which allows every parent in the country to know if dangerous offenders are living in their area.

Who goes on the Sex Offenders' Register?

What constitutes "sex offender" doesn’t necessarily mean "paedophile".

A wide variety of people are placed on the Sex Offenders' Register every year, after receiving a caution or being convicted of an offence.

This could be, for example, a man who received a caution for having smacked a girl on the buttocks while she was passing him on the street, a 22-year-old female teacher who had sexual intercourse with her 15-year-old student, or at the very serious end of the scale, someone like Roy Whiting, who killed Sarah Payne.

Similarly, sex offenders are on the Sex Offenders' Register for differing lengths of time, depending on the type of offence:

  • A jail term of 30 months to life = remain on the register indefinitely
  • A jail term of 6 to 30 months = registration for 10 years
  • A sentence of less than 6 months = on the register for seven years
  • A community order sentence = on the register for five years
  • A caution issued = on the register for two years

With the exception of prison sentences of 30 months or more, minors (offenders under the age of 18) will have their registration period halved.

How do I access the information?

Important: If you feel a child is in immediate danger, you should call 999 straight away.

In all other circumstances that are not an emergency, you can request information relating to a child that you are in a position to protect or safeguard by calling 101 or visit your local police station.

Alternatively you can go to a police station and ask them for a ‘Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme Form’ (Sarah’s Law), or Form 284.

If police checks show the individual has a record for child sexual offences, or other offences that might put the child at risk, the police will consider sharing this information.

You should know that disclosure is not guaranteed - the police will only consider telling the person best placed to protect the child – usually a parent, carer or guardian – if the person being checked has a record of child sexual offences or other offences that indicate they may pose a risk to a child.

The police will disclose information only if it is lawful, necessary and proportionate to do so in the interests of protecting the child, or children, from harm.

For more advice and information on protecting children from abuse, visit the Parents Protect website

But you should know that even if they do release the information...

If the police make a disclosure, parents and carers must keep the information confidential and only use it to keep their child safe.

Legal action may be taken if confidentiality is breached.

Have you got a story for us? You can contact us here.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to keep up with all the latest news.

Sign up to our newsletters to get updates sent straight to your inbox.