The number of sex offenders being officially registered in Dundee is falling due to the Covid-19 court backlog.
Martin Dey, head of the city’s community justice team, said there had been a dip during lockdown as courts struggled to deal with cases.
He said: “The number of RSOs [registered sex offenders] during Covid-19 has slightly gone down.
“That’s because the number of people reaching the end of their term of registration is now increasing, because the court is falling away, in terms of the court being postponed.”
He said he did not expect the issues to be resolved until much later in the year.
“We expect an increase in court work to come in September or October and the numbers to go up again,” he added.
Last year’s figures at a ten year high
Mr Dey was briefing members of the city’s Integration Joint Board (IJB) on record numbers of registered sex offenders in Tayside.
Numbers in the last financial year, ending around the time the pandemic hit, were at a ten-year high, growing 27 in the period up to the end of March 2020 to 407.
Mr Dey put the figures down to an increase in online sexual offences.
“Our interpretation of the increase is the number of people who have been convicted for internet offences,” he said.
“The police are doing well to catch people who are doing that. The internet has brought blessings and curses.”
‘Blessings and curses’
Elaine Torrance, outgoing independent chairwoman of Tayside’s Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), offered members of the board reassurance lockdown had not affected the work.
“I was very reassured that all the agencies were stepping up,” she said.
“They were very clear they were able to meet offenders and support offenders during that period.
“There were still home visits made where that was needed and some really good work throughout the pandemic.”
Ken Lynn, SNP councillor and IJB vice chairman, said: “This is a very important report as it goes without saying that members of our community need reassurance that high risk offenders are appropriately managed.
“It’s an area that causes quite a lot of anxiety, but I think it’s important to note, as is mentioned in the report, that last year more than 99% offenders who were being supported and monitored did not commit a further offence.
“The system does seem to work.”