Sex offender numbers on the rise

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Bedfordshire has fourth-highest concentration in the country.

Bedfordshire has the fourth highest concentration of registered sex offenders living in its community in England and Wales, new figures have revealed.

A report released on Monday showed the authorities were keeping tabs on 70 perverts per 100,000 people in the county at the end of the financial year 2005-06.

Only Humberside, Norfolk and the West Midlands had a greater proportion. Gwent had the same.

The figures released by MAPPA – the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements – also showed 59 new names were added to the sex offender register in 2005-06, bringing the total to 394.

The number of 'high-risk' cases overseen in the area in the same period was 21.

In addition, the authorities were monitoring a further 128 people freed after being sentenced to a year or more in prison for offences involving violence, or sex offences not requiring them to be added to the sex offender register.

Maggie Richards, spokesman for Bedfordshire's probation service, said: "There was an increase in the number of registered sex offenders as a direct result of further convictions following police operations to target internet offences.

"The reality in Luton and Bedfordshire is that the number of high-risk sex offenders is very small. There were 11 registered sex offenders in the highest risk category, who were monitored and supervised in the community last year, and a further ten offenders who were placed in this category for violent and other offences."

She added: "None of the high-risk offenders being managed by the public protection panels in Bedfordshire was charged with a further offence, again demonstrating the vigilance of police and probation in monitoring these offenders and taking immediate action where necessary to protect the public."

Mrs Richards said reports in national newspapers this week on the rise in offenders' numbers were misleading. Sex offenders are required to stay on the register for long periods – a minimum of five years and a maximum of life – and so the register will continue to grow as names are only removed infrequently.

MAPPA brings together the police with the probation and prison services, and other agencies including social services.