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Surge in sex offenders behind bars

A surge in the number of convicted sex offenders behind bars has forced the Government to rethink its response to the problem.

Most recent statistics show that as of March 31 there were 11,150 sentenced sex offenders in custody - a rise of 652 over 12 months, compared with an increase of 152 in the previous year.

And the number of sex offenders in prison almost doubled between 2003 and 2013, with the average sentence length increasing from 40 months in 2003 to more than 59 months in 2013.

Ministry of Justice officials said resources are now being targeted on a smaller number of longer, more intensive programmes for the most serious offenders, rather than providing treatment to lower risk offenders, who have lower rates of reoffending.

The shift in approach has been revealed just hours ahead of a fresh batch of statistics on offender management and p roven reoffending.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: " As a Government we make no apologies for putting sex offenders where they deserve - in jail.

"But when they are there it is important that we deal with their offending behaviour - that means programmes consistent with the best evidence, targeted at those who pose the greatest threat.

"I don't want a one-size-fits-all approach which costs the taxpayer lots of money and doesn't reduce the risk posed by the most serious offenders."

There are eight prisons that wholly deal with sex offenders at Albany, Usk, Bure, Whatton, Ashfield, Stafford, Rye Hill and Littlehey. More than 20 prisons offer specialist treatment.

Investment in all offending behaviour programmes has increased by £280,000 in the last 12 months for those delivered in prison and increased by £1.4 million for those delivered in the community, the Ministry of Justice said.

In addition, more specialist drug treatments designed to curb sexual urges are being used after research at HMP Whatton.

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