More sex offenders free in West Midlands than in prisons

The number of sex offenders out on the streets of the West Midlands dwarfs the number currently serving time for their sick crimes.

Figures obtained by the Express & Star show that there are four times as many perverts who are registered sex offenders in the community in the Black Country than there are in custody.

There were calls today for courts to ensure that no-one put on a register for life is allowed to come off it, despite being given the right to appeal.

Across the four boroughs there are 1,075 people on the register and walking free while 261 were in custody at the end of 2013.

The reason for the big difference is that sex offenders have to stay registered with the police for seven or 10 years, or even for the rest of their lives, depending on the severity of their crimes, after they have finished their jail sentence.

People who are convicted or cautioned for sexual offences have been required to give their details to the police since 1997.

Although such records are often referred to as the ‘sex offenders register’ there is actually no centrally-held database. Each force is expected to keep tabs on the sex offenders in their own area.

Sex offenders have to go to their nearest police station 72 hours after being convicted or receiving a caution and give their name, home address, national insurance number and date of birth.

They also sometimes have to inform the police if they are planning to travel abroad.

People convicted of sexual offences stay on the register for seven years if they were jailed for less than six months, 10 years if they were jailed for up to 30 months and indefinitely if they were in prison for longer than that.

They were given the right to appeal in 2012 following a ruling by the Supreme Court which ‘appalled’ home secretary Theresa May. The ruling meant they were allowed to make the case not to be on the register for life 15 years after leaving prison.

Gavin Williamson, MP for South Staffordshire, said: “If a judge has made a ruling that someone should be registered for life, that’s the way it should stay.

Figures showed there were 96 sex offenders in custody last year in Dudley, compared with 267 out on the street.

In Sandwell there were just 13 people who are serving time, while 319 are in the community.

In 2012 as many as 104 borough residents were locked up for sex offences. In Walsall there were 64 sex offenders inside compared with 234 in the community and in Wolverhampton it was 88 inside, compared with 277 on the register.