The Safeguarding Alliance have identified a serious safeguarding loophole whereby registered sex offenders are able to change their name by deed poll both enrolled and un-enrolled, and go under the radar of all authorities, putting societies most vulnerable at considerable and immediate risk of harm. This renders both the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme (otherwise known as ‘Sarah’s Law’) and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme ( otherwise known as ‘Claire’s Law’) redundant, and makes a mockery of the legal system.
After conducting extensive research including a number of freedom-of-information requests, we summarise our findings
The process by which a convicted sex offender or criminal can change their name by deed poll, both enrolled and un-enrolled, is far too simple, inexpensive and unregulated. An offender can change their name, from prison or elsewhere, at minimal or no cost and commence the process of obscuring their identity unmonitored;
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 places the onus of reporting any name-change on the convicted sex offender or criminal. This is a legal loophole. It renders reporting unreliable and has resulted in sex offenders avoiding the Sex Offenders Register, slipping under the radar and/or ‘going missing’;
There is no joined-up approach between statutory and other agencies. As a result, the effectiveness of important legislation, the Sex Offenders Register and the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme and Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme is undermined and effectively made redundant.
Why you have a #RightToKnow
An employer has the #Right†oKnow who they are employing.
Parents and carers have the #RightToKnow who has contact with their child.
You can only safeguard if you have the facts. Safer recruitment checks are rendered redundant by this serious legal loophole.
Currently under Section 84 (1) of The Sexual Offences Act 2003, a convicted sex offender must report a change of name within 3 days to the authorities.
If they fail to do so, according to Section 91 (2) of The Sexual Offences Act 2003, they could face up to 5 years imprisonment.
However, this legislation is being rendered redundant due to the lack of accountability, regulation and enforceability. At present the onus is placed solely on the offender. In reality not every convicted sex offender will act with honesty and report a change of name to the authorities.
The Safeguarding Alliance are calling for:
The Government to immediately publish updated guidance on safeguarding and vetting procedures for any organisation employing somebody who will work with children, young people or vulnerable adults, making it compulsory for existing and new recruits to produce an attested birth certificate to be checked against official documentation (e.g. passports and drivers’ licences). This will ensure that all names are ‘checked’ as part of the safer recruitment process.
The replacement of the automatic right of registered sex offenders to be able to change their name by deed poll to a more rigorous process which prioritises the protection and welfare of the child. Other countries require registered sex-offenders to make a name change application through their courts with granted name changes automatically disclosed to the relevant authorities removing the onus of disclosure from the offender and facilitating a joined-up approach between agencies.
The establishment of an external safeguarding regulatory body and the adoption of our Safeguarding Standard ensuring clear safeguarding policies are implemented in practice replacing the current fragmented and flawed approach. The application of the Safeguarding Standard identified the above-mentioned loopholes and remedies and was specifically developed to close the evident vacuum between safeguarding policy and practice.d your text here.
Safeguarding loopholes are symptomatic of a much wider issue being the lack of a comprehensive and coherent safeguarding regulatory regime. We are struck by the fact that other service sectors, such as law and finance, operate with sophisticated regulatory frameworks underpinned by values and principles with clear lines of responsibility and accountability. However, when working with children and young people regulation and supervision lacks consistency, coordination and cohesion.
The Safeguarding Alliance have written to every Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom asking them to support the campaign to ensure your #RightToKnow is upheld. If you would like to help, please write to your Local MP and ask them to respond to The Safeguarding Alliance email with ‘yes, I support your letter’ by the 21st August 2020. We will then include their name to a letter addressed to the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, Prime Minister.
SIGN THE PETITION
The Safeguarding Alliance have started a petition "Revoke the right of registered sex offenders to change their name by deed poll" if you would like to sign the petition please click here.