Overall the number of registered sex offenders (RSOs) in Scotland has increased by 6 per cent on last year, from 4,787 to 5,098. The increase is more marked when the latest figures are compared with those from 2014. In all there has been a 20 per cent increase on the 4,256 RSOs recorded in 2014.
The figures were revealed in a Scottish Government report titled the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements in Scotland.
The Scottish Conservatives expressed concern that the number of RSOs living in the community has risen from 3,767 in 2015 to 3,950 in 2015-16, an increase of 183.
The increase was accompanied by a rise in the number of offenders convicted of a further sexual crime or non-sexual crime of violence. The report showed reoffending had increased by 50 per cent since 2014 (from 48 to 72 in 2016).
Shadow justice secretary Douglas Ross said: “Once again this report has given us a deeply worrying insight into the management of sexual offenders in Scotland.
“Not only has there been an increase in the number of sexual offenders in Scotland, but more of them are living in our communities instead of behind bars. The last thing we should be doing is letting so many of these offenders out on to our streets, especially when more of them are going on to commit sexual or violent crimes.”
Mr Ross added: “Many people will rightly be very concerned when they read these figures, and the SNP have to explain themselves. When reoffending rates are on the rise, why are more of these individuals in our communities?”
Justice secretary Michael Matheson said: “The monitoring of sex offenders is now tougher than ever before, with greater police powers to manage these individuals and a range of measures for high risk offenders – such as surveillance, electronic tagging, curfews, and restrictions on where they can go or who they can contact.” The rise in registered offenders may be due to an increase in historic reporting in the wake of high profile cases.”