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10 March 2015, 11:50
Police have revealed almost 400 convicted sex offenders have gone missing across the UK, includingg 167 in London.
Registered sex offenders - including rapists and paedophiles - are required to inform police and probation officers of their addresses and are supposed to be monitored by officials working under multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA).
But in freedom of information responses to the Press Association, 39 forces revealed there were missing registered sex offenders in their areas in February or early March.
They stressed the figures could change as arrests are made or new cases come to light.
Every force to respond to the Press Association refused to name those missing over concerns of vigilante attacks or because the information was exempt under data protection laws.
The Metropolitan Police, the UK's largest force, said 167 registered sex offenders were wanted in London alone, including one offender who had been missing for 14 years.
A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said London's "diverse multicultural population" meant a large percentage of sex offenders were "either known or believed to be living abroad, having returned to their country of origin".
Last month the force issued an appeal to trace convicted rapist Patrick Mosekwe Kanda who had been living in Dagenham, east London, but failed to report to authorities in February 2013 following his release from prison.
The NSPCC described the figures as "alarming" and said its own research had found there was just one police staff member responsible for every 50 registered sex offenders.
Jon Brown, the charity's lead for tackling sexual abuse, said: "About half of those on the register are offenders who have raped or sexually assaulted children, or committed online child abuse image offences, however most just receive one police visit a year after they have been released from prison and a period of supervision.
"The monitoring of registered sex offenders in communities needs urgent attention by the Government to ensure it is fit for purpose."
The NSPCC said there were around 900 police officers and non-uniformed staff responsible for managing more than 46,000 registered sex offenders.
"It seems this area is currently chronically under resourced and the number of dangerous individuals on the register is increasing yearly," Mr Brown added.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: "The UK has some of the toughest powers in the world to deal with sex offenders and we are committed to ensuring the system is as robust as possible.
"It is for the police to manage offenders in their area, but we work closely with forces to ensure legislation is effective and that officers have all the tools they need."