Sex crimes review ‘not good enough’

Government plans for police chiefs to review requests from paedophiles and rapists to be removed from the sex offenders register after 15 years do not go far enough, say MPs and peers.

The proposals risk unnecessary legal challenges over avoidable breaches of offenders’ rights to respect for family life, a report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) found.

It said a review by a chief police officer does not amount to a review by an appropriate tribunal and would not go far enough to satisfy a Supreme Court ruling that it is a breach of offenders’ human rights to be put on the register for life with no review.

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MPs and peers who are members of the committee said yesterday an independent and impartial tribunal court should be used either for the reviews instead, or by way of appeal from a chief officer’s decision.

Their report said: “In our view, either of these options would introduce a sufficiently independent element to the review process.

“The committee expresses its view that this type of review should be concluded by a court of sufficient seniority, such as the High Court or the Crown Court.”

The review must also involve a balancing exercise to enable the reviewer to consider whether continued registration is a necessary and proportionate interference with the private life of the offender, the report said.

While the Supreme Court ruling made it clear that “significant weight should be afforded to the interest in protecting the public from sexual offences”, any review must also involve weighing the risk against the continuing impact on the offender, it added.

The maximum number of sex offenders eligible for a review each year was estimated at 1,200, a Home Office impact assessment showed.

On average, each review would take about 13 hours of police time at an average cost of £760.