Hundreds of registered sex offenders are living in Bedfordshire, new figures reveal.
Police forces, probation services and other government agencies keep tabs on dangerous criminals living in communities in England and Wales using special management plans known as Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA).
Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures show 634 registered sex offenders were being managed under MAPPA in the Bedfordshire Police area as of March this year.
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That is a rate of 109 offenders for every 100,000 people, below the average for England and Wales, of 119.
Sex offenders sentenced to at least 30 months in prison remain on the register indefinitely – although some can apply to be removed after 15 years, following a change to the law in 2012.
Bedfordshire Police removed four people from the register following an application last year, with the number of sex offenders growing by 5 per cent from 2018-19.
The vast majority in Bedfordshire are classed as level one offenders, which means police and other agencies share information about them, but no special measures are required.
But offenders in the county were placed in the level two category eight times during 2019-20, meaning agencies have to hold regular meetings to discuss them.
These offenders pose such a big risk that additional resources such as specialised accommodation may be needed to manage them.
Registered sex offenders have to tell police of any changes to their circumstances, such as their address, foreign travel plans, and potential contact with children.
In Bedfordshire, 32 offenders were cautioned or convicted for failing to do so last year.
The figures also show that 244 violent offenders – those who have committed crimes such as murder, kidnapping and grievous bodily harm – were living in Bedfordshire in March.
But this could also include other sexual offenders who are not required to be on the register.
Abigail Gill, policy and public affairs manager at the NSPCC, said: “It’s vital the system is able to manage and monitor these offenders in the community to rehabilitate them and ensure children and young people are protected."
The NSPCC is calling for the Home Office's promised Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy to be implemented, urging the Government to ensure it joins up cross-department efforts to prevent sexual abuse across society.
In response, the Government said the national strategy will be published before the end of the year.
A MoJ spokesman said: “We are increasing prison time for the most dangerous sex offenders and when they are released they go on the sex offender register and can be brought back to jail if they break their strict license conditions."