Express & Star comment: Tracing sex offenders is top priority
It is seriously worrying that 55 sex offenders have seemingly dropped off the police radar across the wider West Midlands region.
While we don’t know the precise nature of the crimes committed by these individuals, the NSPCC says half on the sex offender register had either sexually assaulted children or committed offences relating to online child abuse images.
Make no mistake, we are talking about the type of criminals that should strike fear into the hearts of any right-minded person.
But in some ways it is hardly surprising sex offenders are going on the run.
We are told across the country most of them receive just one police visit a year after they have been released from prison. And we know police resources are being stretched to the limit, particularly with officer numbers down to bare bones.
However, it is unacceptable sex offenders can disappear with such apparent ease.
We know this is not just an issue that affects police in the West Midlands, Staffordshire, West Mercia and Warwickshire force areas.
It is a nationwide problem that requires a nationwide solution.
One of the priorities of any police force should be to keep track of any offenders on their release, particularly those who have been convicted of offences of a violent or sexual nature.
All offenders of this type should be properly assessed and monitored on release.
If this does not happen, then these often dangerous criminals are free to move from one area to another.
By this stage it becomes even more difficult for the police to track them down.
The UK has some of the toughest powers in the world to deal with sex offenders, and the Home Office insists it is committed to ensuring the system is as robust as possible.
But questions must be asked over whether the current legislation is truly effective.
There are also concerns over whether the communication lines between our police forces are as open as they should be.
It is reassuring to hear West Midlands Police has prioritised capturing sex offenders who have gone missing in its force area. They must be located as a matter of urgency.