Doubts over online monitoring as sex offences jump

Monitoring has been called into question as sex offences online jump 109 per cent. Picture: TSPL
Monitoring has been called into question as sex offences online jump 109 per cent. Picture: TSPL
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Experts have voiced concerns about their ability to monitor sex offenders online after a 109 per cent rise in the number of those being convicted of internet-related offences.

A review of the multi-agency public protection arrangements (Mappa) carried out by the Care Inspectorate and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found measures for monitoring nearly 4,000 sex offenders are working well, despite the number of those being watched continuing to grow.

However, the report called for the Scottish Government to undertake a review of equipment and training with a view to giving social workers the same capabilities as the police to monitor some sex offenders online.

The report said the growing number of internet offenders is a challenge in terms of management and risk assessment.

The number of those being convicted of internet-related offences has increased by 109 per cent between 2012/13 and 2014/15, according to the report.

Overall, there are 4,787 registered sex offenders in Scotland, 3,767 of whom are being managed in the community.

The report said: “Practitioners expressed concern at the growing number of internet offenders and the challenge this

posed in terms of management and risk assessment.

“Staff indicated they would benefit from greater access to such equipment supported by a code of practice to enable them to proactively determine whether or not a registered sex offender has accessed the internet in breach of licence conditions and/or commission of a further offence.”

According to the review, 98 per cent of registered sex offenders have not been convicted of a further serious violent or sexual crime and 91 per cent comply with the notification procedures.

Karen Reid, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “This lengthy and detailed review provides evidence that Mappa is effective and there are robust arrangements in place across the country to manage registered sex offenders.

“That said, we have outlined ten recommendations requiring a national response led by the Scottish Government in partnership with responsible authorities.”

Andy Cowie, Assistant HM Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland, said: “There is a need for a robust national governance structure to prepare and plan for existing and future issues.”