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.
Key legislation is being undermined and rendered redundant due to a loophole that registered offenders are aware of and are using to slip through the cracks. Changes to the law and a joined-up approach are urgently needed.
“...key legislation is being undermined and rendered redundant due to a loophole that registered offenders are aware of and are using to slip through the cracks..”
Della is a survivor of Child Sexual Abuse (‘CSA’), and an Ambassador for The Safeguarding Alliance. Della has chosen to bravely speak out and tell her story in support of so many other survivors who have been impacted by this serious safeguarding loophole.
When Della was between six and seven years old, a known sexual offender came to live in her home becoming one of her primary carers. He went on to commit the most heinous of crimes and was free to sexually abuse Della at will. This is something that has dramatically changed the course of her life and has left her battling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
When Della finally found the strength and courage to report the abuse to the police for the second time in 2015 (already reported in 2007), it quickly became apparent that the person in question was already known to the police, he had gone on to commit many further sexual offences against an undisclosed number of victims.
During this time Della was made aware that his name had changed, it has since been identified that he had changed his name at least five times during that time, enabling him to relocate under the radar and evade justice.
“…it has since been identified that he had changed his name at least five times during that time, enabling him to relocate under the radar and evade justice”
When Della’s case was finally brought to court, he was once again allowed to change his name, this time in between being charged and appearing in court for the plea hearing.
This slowed down the whole court process, added additional stress to Della and made a complete mockery of the justice system.Whilst the loophole of registered sex offender name change exists, Della’s abuser is free to change his name as often as he likes, including from prison.
For safeguarding purposes we will only be providing our report to professionals upon request.
The process by which a registered sex offender 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 a name-change on the registered sex offender. This is a legal loophole rendering reporting unreliable and resulting in sex offenders avoiding slipping under the radar of all authorities;
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 are being undermined and rendered redundant.
The ongoing work of our dedicated research team is leading to findings that are getting results and leading to actual changes in legislation.
The Government have accepted Sarah Champion MP’s amendment, New Clause 24, to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which has been supported by our research team. This amendment will ensure the government addresses the loophole in the law whereby a registered sex offender can change their name through deed poll and go under the radar of all authorities.
As we have made the authorities aware, the responsibility currently lies with the sex offender to inform the authorities of a name change within three days or they face five years imprisonment if fail to do so. However, our FOIs found that over 900 sex offenders have gone missing from the police between 2017 and 2020 and thousands breach their notification requirements each year. We are about to release our new FOI information shortly. This is an incredibly dangerous problem as it means that sex offenders are able to acquire a DBS check under their new name and secure jobs working with children and vulnerable people, allowing them to re-offend.
New Clause 24 requires the Secretary of State to carry out a review into why this is happening and propose solutions for how to fix it within 12 months of the Act being passed. The Safeguarding Alliance will be writing to the Government to ensure we are included as part of the review.
MP Sarah Champion brought this issue to the attention of the Parliament Benchmark Business Committee. The loophole is going to be debated in Parliament on Thursday 2nd March at 11am, and The Safeguarding Alliance are asking you for help. We have created a letter template for you to fill and send to your local MP to get them to support this debate and create a safer society for the future. Click here to download the letter template.
Keeping Children Safe in Education has just been published and includes a very important update based on The Safeguarding Alliance Campaign. Over the last year The Safeguarding Alliance met with the Department for Education to highlight our research and findings relating to sex offender name change, and the impact it has on the effectiveness of the safer recruitment process, posing a danger to children and young people. To mitigate the risk of this very serious and live safeguarding loophole, as per Paragraph 213, schools are now advised as best practice to undertake a birth certificate check alongside other forms of identification to verify a candidate’s identity. It is important a school or college is sure that the person is who they claim to be, this includes being aware of the potential for individuals changing their name. Best practice is checking the name on their birth certificate, where this is available.