HC Deb 12 February 2002 vol 380 cc306-7W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to force sex offenders to notify the authorities if they are travelling abroad for eight days or less; and if he will make a statement. [32137]

Beverley Hughes

The Sex Offenders (Notice Requirement) (Foreign Travel) Regulations 2001 made under the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000, require sex offenders subject to the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 1997 (the register) to notify the police if they intend to travel abroad for a period of eight days or longer. These came into force on 1 June 2001.

The qualifying period for notification of travel abroad was the subject of discussion during the review of the Sex Offenders Act 1997. The review included representatives of the police, probation and social services, and children's charities. The conclusion reached was that a qualifying period shorter than eight days would result in an unwieldy, unresponsive and consequently less effective, system for the police to administer.

We will be keeping the effectiveness of the Sex Offenders Act under review over the years to come but we have no plans to change this aspect of the system at this stage.

The United Kingdom remains one of only four countries which has a register of sex offenders and one of only two which requires registered sex offenders to notify travel abroad.

The number of defendants convicted at all courts for offences relating to child pornography England and Wales 20001
Offence Statute Total convicted
Possessing obscene material for gain Obscene Publications Act 1959 s.2 as amended by the Obscene Publications Act, 1964 sec.1 81
Take or to make indecent photographs, or pseudo-photographs, of children Protection of Children Act 1978 sections 1, 6 as amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 sec. 84 218
Possession of an indecent photograph, or pseudo-photograph, of a child Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1988 sec. 160 as amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 secs. 84(4) and 86(1) 77
1 Staffordshire police force were only able to supply a sample of data for magistrates' courts proceedings covering one full week in each quarter for 2000. Although sufficient to estimate higher orders of data, these data are not robust at a detailed level and so are excluded from this table.