New law to stop thousands of offenders from changing their name in secret

Thousands of offenders on community and suspended sentences will no longer be able to secretly change their name as part of tough new rules to protect the public.

The Community and Suspended Sentences (Notification of Details) Bill will bring the law for those on community orders in line with offenders on licence. The Private Members’ Bill passed its second reading in Parliament last week (Friday 23rd February), after the Government signalled its support.

The change will mean all offenders and youth criminals will have to notify their probation officer about any name changes, online aliases or changes to contact details.

Offenders who refuse to comply could be taken back to court facing a tougher sentence, including possible prison time.

Prisons and Probation Minister, Edward Argar, said:

“Deceitful offenders should never be able to hide from justice and any offender that tries to do this will be punished.

Our number one priority is public protection so it is vital that our probation officers have all the information they need to keep a watchful eye on offenders – whether that be online or in real life.”

The Bill was brought forward by Ruth Jones MP. Ruth Jones commented:

“I am delighted that my Bill has secured its Second Reading, on a cross party basis, and will continue its passage through Parliament.

This Bill is about keeping our communities safe and ensuring that we do that in deeds as well as words. I look forward to taking the Bill through to its next stage – it cannot come a minute sooner.”

This Bill comes alongside the Home Secretary’s commitment to restrict the ability of certain registered sex offenders to change their name in specific circumstances, which will be included in the Criminal Justice Bill.

These changes will strengthen the Probation Service’s ability to robustly supervise offenders in the community and keep the public safe. Funding for the Probation Service has been increased by an additional £155 million a year since 2020/21 to recruit record levels of staff and reduce caseloads. The number of Probation staff in post has increased by 17% since June 2021.

The Bill will amend the Sentencing Act 2020 to create a duty on offenders to notify probation or Youth Offending Teams of any change of name and/or contact details if they are sentenced to a Community Order, Suspended Sentence Order, Youth Rehabilitation Order or Referral Order.

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