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Public safety fear as hundreds more sex offenders change names

Hundreds more registered sex offenders in Scotland have been legally allowed to change their names, fuelling public safety concerns.

Police Scotland records reveal that they were notified of 392 instances of sex criminals changing names within a 19-month period.

The data, from 1 April 2022 to 31 October 2023, was obtained by the Scottish Conservatives under freedom of information law.

The party’s shadow justice secretary Russell Findlay wants the practice banned because it allows dangerous criminals to “hide in plain sight” by masking their true identity.

Among those to exploit this “dangerous loophole” was rapist Jason Graham who changed his name to Jason Evans before raping and murdering Glasgow pensioner Esther Brown.

Another is Scott Storey who was jailed for murdering Bridget Cameron, the mother of his children, in 2004. Upon release, he changed his name to Scott Stewart before attacking his new partner, who was unaware of his real identity.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Russell Findlay MSP said: “Hundreds more registered sex offenders in Scotland have been legally able to change their names.

“People who they meet in daily life, especially those they have relationships with, are deprived of knowing who they really are.

“Being placed on the sex offenders’ register is not done lightly and it is clearly wrong for them to be able to hide in plain sight in this way.

“Having first called on SNP ministers to close this dangerous loophole two years ago nothing has happened. The government says that public protection measures are sufficient, but that claim is simply untrue.

“These alarming new figures demonstrate the growing scale of this problem. Does there need to be another tragic crime before action is taken?”

Notes

Sex offenders have changed their names nearly 400 times in just 19 months. Between 1 April 2022 and 31 October 2023, Police Scotland received 392 notifications that Registered Sex Offenders have changed their name, broken down by 241 notifications in 2022-23 and 151 notifications in 2023-24 so far (up to the date of 31 October 2023). (Police Scotland FOI, 16 November 2023, Attached).

Esther Brown’s murderer was reportedly using a different name when he killed her. Jason Graham was using the name Jason Evans when he murdered Esther Brown. Graham was previously convicted of raping a nurse and leaving her for dead back in 2013. (Sky News, 17 November 2021, link; Scottish Daily Mail, 13 February 2022, Page 30).

Knife killer changed name after prison release before attacking new girlfriend. Scott Storey was out on licence from prison for murder when he attacked his new girlfriend who knew nothing of his past because he introduced himself as Scott Stewart to hide his real identity. Storey was previously jailed in 2004 for a minimum of 12 years and six months for murdering the mother of his children, Bridget Cameron. (Daily Record, 20 March 2022, link).

Sex offenders must notify the police about any name change, but they are not prohibited from changing their names. Section 83 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 outlines notification requirements from convicted sex offenders which include notifying the police of the sex offender’s name and ‘where he used one or more other names on that date, each of those names’. (Legislation.gov, Sexual Offences Act 2003, Section 83, link).

The Scottish Conservatives want to ban sex offenders from being able to change their name whilst they are still subject to notification requirements. Sex offenders who are still to notification requirements as outlined in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 would be banned from changing the name they used at the time they committed their crime. (The Scottish Sun, 16 March 2022, link).