Tories call for sex offender gender change rule to be fast-tracked

Police Scotland said they did not hold data on sex offenders who have changed gender.

Conservatives call for sex offender gender change rule to be fast-tracked STV News

The Scottish Government should fast-track legislation to ensure sex offenders have to notify police if they are changing their gender, Conservative justice spokesman Russell Findlay has said.

It comes after the party received a freedom of information response from Police Scotland saying they did not hold data on sex offenders who have changed gender and that there is no requirement to report this.

In November last year, a Government minister pledged to bring in a new requirement under the sex offenders notification scheme for offenders to alert police if they made an application for a gender recognition certificate.

The pledge was made as the Gender Recognition Reform Bill went through Holyrood, before it was blocked by the UK Government’s use of Section 35 of the Scotland Act.

On Friday, the Court of Session ruled the unprecedented use of Section 35 was lawful, rejecting a challenge from the Scottish Government.

SNP ministers have said the ruling highlights the flaws of devolution and they are considering the judgment carefully.

Findlay said ministers should fast-track legislation to ensure police are made aware when sex offenders change their gender.

He said: “This alarming admission from Police Scotland exposes another broken SNP promise.

“During the passing of their gender self-ID law, Shona Robison said that the rules would be changed so the police would be entitled to know when registered sex offenders change their gender identity. This has not happened.

“Officers whose job is to keep people safe must be told when a sex offender changes their identity in any way.

“The existence of this loophole means that predatory criminals, most of whom are men, can exploit gender identity to go to ground, putting women and girls at increased risk.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The sex offender notification requirements in Scotland require convicted sex offenders to provide a range of personal information to the police, including their name, and to inform the police should any of those details subsequently change. Police Scotland have a number of existing powers, including taking fingerprints, to verify an individual’s identify.

“There are strong proactive protective management measures in place. Effective policing by justice partner agencies allows detection of breaches of notification requirements. Breaches can receive a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.”

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