THE number of registered sex offenders living in the South Wales Police force area rose by nearly three times the nationwide average in 2018-19.

The 8% increase compares to a 3% average rise in force areas in Wales and England.

The Ministry of Justice figures show there were 59,742 registered sex offenders being monitored by police at March 31, 2019, in England and Wales.

This works out at one offender for every 869 people aged 10 and over.

There were 1,624 offenders in the South Wales Police area – which comprises seven counties from Swansea in the west to Cardiff in the east – equating to one offender for every 721 people.

The 492 registered sex offenders in the Dyfed-Powys Police force area as of March 31,2019, was a rise of just one on the previous year.

This is the equivalent of one sex offender for every 945 people aged 10 and over in Dyfed Powys, which comprises Carmarthenshire, Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion.

The figures released by the Ministry of Justice cover offenders managed by multi-agency public protection arrangements aimed at preventing further crimes.

Registered sex offenders are split into three categories, depending on the risk they pose to the public, and what degree of management they need.

The number of offenders in England and Wales has risen by 90% over the past 12 years.

This increase is influenced by sentencing trends, and the long periods of time – sometimes life – which offenders must register for.

A spokeswoman for children’s charity the NSPCC said the scale of the problem was “deeply concerning” but that it was encouraging that more offences were coming to light, given that children were often the victims.

She added: “We know from our own research that recorded child sexual offences are at an all-time high and it’s crucial that the system is able to cope to ensure offenders are being properly monitored in the community.

“But these figures are the tip of the iceberg so it is vital to report signs of sexual abuse where they occur.”

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “Since 2010, more perpetrators of sex offences are being convicted, sentenced and imprisoned.”

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