Around 1,300 paedophiles and sex abusers in the UK have changed their names in the past three years, with hundreds able to do so even while in prison, Safeguarding Alliance has claimed.
The children’s charity fear this could amount to an exploitable loophole, allowing paedophiles to “disappear” into society for a mere £15 - even though they must inform police of the switch.
“We’re shocked at this, it is putting children at significant risk. How many convicted sex offenders are currently working in schools or organisations where there are children and have notified a change of name? We believe this figure is higher because the numbers given to us had notified a change of name. The issue is how many have not notified a change of name,” Emily Konstantis of Safeguardian Alliance said.
Speaking to @bbcessex about my letter to the Government with my constituent, Emily Konstantas, CEO of the @TheSafeguarding, who has uncovered a loophole in the Sexual Offences Act, potentially allowing sex offenders to change their name by deed poll and slip under the radar. pic.twitter.com/cDBUJ8eUbH— Robert Halfon ~Working Hard for Harlow~ (@halfon4harlowMP) October 7, 2019
As a result, the organisation is calling for regulatory bodies to monitor the service and deal with any change of name on a “case by case” basis. Conservative MP Robert Halfon has also written to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland seeking clarity on the question.
It’s not the first time concerns have been raised about paedophiles changing their names – in 2016 it was reported over 800 sex offenders had formally done so over the previous five years to hide their criminal pasts and allow them to apply for jobs and settle in to new lives and communities without neighbours and friends being able to discover their previous offences. At the time, police forces refused to reveal which names had been changed for fear of infringing data protection regulations and placing the individuals at risk of reprisal from the public.