729 sex offenders went missing or were sought for arrest between 2019 and 2021, according to the Freedom of Information requests made by BBC News to 45 police forces.
Abuse victims have urged the government to pass new legislation prohibiting sex offenders from changing their identities.
According to the BBC Shared Data Unit, almost 1,500 registered sex offenders notified police forces of lawful name changes – 21 police forces provided those figures.
MP, Sarah Champion told the BBC that “the key reason so many offenders went missing was because they had changed their names”.
Registered sex offenders were changing their names and applying for new identity documents, Champion previously raised in parliament, enabling them to possibly secure jobs dealing with children.
Ms Champion also told the BBC:
“Clearly, the current system of notification isn’t working. The sheer scale of breaches and sex offenders going missing is a scandal, but one the public don’t know about”.
Della Wright, campaigner and survivor of abuse, wants sex offenders to be banned from changing their name once they are added to the register as she was abused when she was younger by Terry Price, who was sentenced in 2017 to 22 years in prison with a five-year extension after being found guilty of sex offences involving children.
When Priti Patel was the home secretary, she selected Mick Creedon, the former chief of Derbyshire police, to review the police’s handling of registered sex offenders.
The scope and nature of offenders changing their names were also the subject of a distinct internal investigation. Despite not having released the results, the Home Office claimed that ministers were considering both reports.
According to a spokesperson for the Home Office, The Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Act has improved for the Home Office’s system for dealing with offenders.
For those who were found guilty or issued a warning for a sexual or violent offence, the act made it simpler to impose limitations via civil orders called Sexual Harm Prevention Orders.
Additionally, sexual risk orders may be issued by courts to anyone who has been proven to be a sexual threat.