David Cameron said he is appalled the Government must reform the sex offenders register and put the rights of paedophiles and rapists above protecting the public.
Thousands of sex offenders will be able to apply to have their names removed after the Supreme Court ruled it was a breach of offenders’ human rights to be put on the register for life with no review.
The ruling “seems to fly completely in the face of common sense”, but the Government has no choice but to act, the Prime Minister said.
He was “appalled” by the ruling, he said, adding that it was “about time we started making sure decisions are made in this Parliament rather than in the courts”.
Home Secretary Theresa May told MPs that as few changes as possible will be made to the law and a commission will be launched to investigate the creation of a British Bill of Rights to ensure that rights of the public come before the rights of criminals.
The bar for appeals to be removed from the register will be set as “high as possible” to ensure public safety, with offenders only being able to apply 15 years after being released from jail, she said. Police will have the final decision and there will be no right of appeal against a decision to keep an offender on the register.
Tory MP Philip Hollobone said the public was “absolutely fed up to the back teeth with human rights legislation and the way it’s being used to promote the rights of bad people over the rights of good people”.
But Donald Findlater, director of research and development at the Lucy Faithful Foundation which works with both sex offenders and victims, said he did not feel “unduly alarmed” by the proposals.
“We have to recognise that sex offenders cover a wide range of different kinds of behaviours and different kinds of risks,” he said. “The fact that these people end up on the register for life because of their sentence doesn’t tell me how risky they are.”
Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “Adults who sexually abuse children should stay on the offenders’ register for life as we can never be sure their behaviour will change”.