Convicted sex offenders in Scotland have admitted changing their names more than 500 times in the past three years, a Freedom of Information (FOI) has revealed.
Police Scotland have received 521 notifications of convicted sex offenders changing their identities since 2019.
Under existing laws they are allowed to do so, despite concerns that some predators hide their pasts in order to strike again.
In the year 2019/2020, Police Scotland said it was notified 161 times of sex offenders changing their names, followed by a further 162 the following year.
Some 198 went on to change their names in 2021/2022.
The Scottish Conservatives which submitted the FOI request have called on the SNP government to close the “dangerous loophole”.
Scottish Conservative shadow community safety minister, Russell Findlay MSP, said: “It makes my blood run cold to think that hundreds of potentially dangerous sex offenders are free to wipe the slate clean and roam free in society with the full knowledge of the authorities.
“By far the greatest number of victims of such crimes are women and children. Casually allowing predators to change their names inevitably puts them at increased risk.
“People would have no idea if someone living next door is legitimate or hiding a serious conviction and SNP ministers must close this dangerous loophole before more innocent people are harmed.
“The Scottish Conservatives would ban sex offender name changes to ensure that public safety is the priority, unlike the SNP who would rather pander to criminals.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Sex offender notification requirements apply to an individual, irrespective of what name they use.
“Registered sex offenders are obliged by law to notify the police of any change of name.
“In Scotland, the vast majority of registered sex offenders in the community comply with the notification requirements imposed upon them.
“Swift action is taken by the police in the minority of cases that do not comply, with those in breach facing penalties of up to five years in prison.”