More than 1,000 convicted sex offenders are living in South Yorkshire communities - but nine have disappeared off the radar, The Star can reveal today.
Police chiefs know the whereabouts of nearly every all of the 1,444 offenders on the national Sex Offender Register living in South Yorkshire – but admit nine have vanished without a trace.
The offender who has been missing the longest is an 81-year-old, wanted since May 2007.
Peter Horner, who manages the force’s public protection unit: “There are nine registered sex offenders convicted of offences within South Yorkshire that have failed to notify the police of their location.
“Their details have been circulated across the country. To date none are known to have committed further sexual offences.”
There are 375 offenders on the register in prison, and 1,069 living back in society.
Officers said 471 convicted sex criminals live in Sheffield, 351 in Rotherham, 208 in Barnsley and 414 in Doncaster. Some are in their 90s and some are in nursing homes.
Others are as young as 11 and 12.
The figures are revealed through The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign today as police chiefs disclosed the sheer scale of the work which goes into monitoring South Yorkshire sex offenders.
The tally includes paedophiles and rapists, and the aim of the police work is to prevent re-offending and keep communities safe.
Mr Horner said: “More than 99 per cent of all the offenders are robustly monitored on a daily basis by a dedicated team.”
Officers in South Yorkshire’s public protection unit, who monitor offenders once they are released from prison, said more people are coming forward to report historic offences, and computer technology is helping to catch offenders – including those downloading child porn or using the internet and social media to groom victims.
They admitted an increase in migrants moving to South Yorkshire had led to more names being added to the list.
Police have the right to carry out ‘international conviction checks’ on new arrivals, and anyone whose past criminality causes concern can be added to the register if police applications are successful at court.
One monitoring officer, who cannot be named for fear of identifying offenders he visits, said prison helps to rehabilitate many.
But he said some perverts are just as dangerous when released as they are when jailed – and the challenge for police is to do everything possible to prevent them striking again.
“We get involved in their lives in everything we possibly can – their relationships, where they live, their jobs – and we steer them in the right direction,” he said.
“One of the biggest risk factors is boredom, so if they have some stability in their lives it helps reduce the chance of repeat offending.
“Our role is very satisfying and rewarding, but how successful we are is unquantifiable because we have no idea how many offences we have prevented.
“We hope, and believe, we have prevented a lot.”