Home office slammed for sex offender bans

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SHADOW Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has slammed “major loopholes” in legislation after figures revealed the number of people barred from working with children as a result of committing sexual offences against youngsters has plunged since rules changed three years ago.

In 2011, 12,360 people were stopped from working with children due to committing sexual offences against youngsters. This fell to 5,758 in 2012 and 2,800 in 2013.

Other data shows the number of people being barred from working with children as a result of intelligence sharing and investigations by the police and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has fallen from 1,542 in 2011 to 471 in 2012 and to 351 in 2013.

Labour claimed changes made by Home Secretary Theresa May have played a significant role in these reductions as her reforms made it harder to bar a convicted sex offender.

Ms Cooper said: “Theresa May was warned repeatedly that the new legislation left major loopholes in the system. This evidence shows those warnings were right.”

For all but a handful of offences, only those actually working with children or expressing a desire to work with children are added to the barred list, while those in other occupations are not added.

A Home Office spokesman said the changes to the barring system strike a balance between avoiding unnecessary intrusion and protecting children. Anyone committing the most serious offences is still automatically barred.