Thousands of registered sex offenders are living within communities in the West Midlands, the Express & Star can reveal.
Figures show the number of rapists, paedophiles and others who have been put under watch by police because of their crimes, even after being released from prison.
But Home Secretary Theresa May has told the Express & Star that police will be keeping an eye on sex offenders, despite a controversial court ruling that said they must be allowed to appeal to be removed from a register after 15 years.
The law was changed in 2012 following the Supreme Court ruling, something Mrs May said at the time she was ‘appalled by’. Speaking on a visit to Halesowen the Home Secretary said:
“We’ve had to change the legislation around this.
“But any decisions that are made will be made absolutely properly. The police will look at the case when people appeal and all the evidence and all the aspects of the individual case. And doing it that way I hope we can give reassurance that these decisions will not be done in a casual way.”
Across Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton, a total of 1,075 registered sex offenders were living in the areas and not in prison at the end of last year. Of those areas, Sandwell had the highest number of registered sex offenders living in the community at 319. Wolverhampton had 277, Dudley had 245 and Walsall had 234.
The numbers in Sandwell and Wolverhampton have risen from 299 and 255 respectively, while in Dudley there are five fewer and in Walsall 21 fewer than the year before. In December 2013, there were 898 registered sex offenders in Staffordshire, including 334 in the south of the county, which includes South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase, Lichfield and Stafford.
A year earlier there were 871 in the county. The latest figures for West Mercia showed there were 988 registered sex offenders in the area.