This week in Parliament we will be debating the fact that serious sex offenders can change their name and their identity. Most people, I speak to do not know that a sex offender can change their name and simply erase their past.
A sex offender is required to notify the police of a name change. But if a sex offender is seeking to disguise their former identity, can we rely on that offender to tell the police?
An incredibly brave Telford victim of serious child sexual abuse, over many years, has asked me to raise her case in Parliament as part of this debate. Her perpetrator received a 15 sentence for serious and multiple sex offences against a child in 2016. He is up for early release in April 2023, 8 years early. Her perpetrator has not only decided to change their name, but they have changed their identity and now identifies as a woman.
We know that sexual offenders do simply disappear off the radar. The minister calls this ability for sex offenders to change their name and identity, a ‘loophole’ in the disclosure barring system and has committed to a ’review.’ This understates the seriousness of the issue, minimises the risk to victims and others, and demeans the experience of victims. No sex offender should be allowed to change their name or identity. It’s a safeguarding issue, but also, it’s about the rights of victims to feel safe, which is something all too often overlooked.
My constituent was told in passing that her perpetrator, who had committed horrendous sex crimes against her throughout her childhood, now identified as a woman, granting them rights of privacy. With a wig, make up and new name, her perpetrator would be unidentifiable. The victim feels numb, afraid, abused all over again. She had rebuilt her life, training as a paramedic, starting a family, but suddenly she’s that frightened child again, being controlled and manipulated, by a devious child abuser.
I will be fighting my constituent’s corner to stop the early release of this offender and to prevent sexual offenders from changing their name and identity.