EU will share info to help track sex offenders

Wales News - News - WalesOnline

Shipton, Martin; Jun 16 2006

EU will share info to help track sex offenders - Wales News - News - WalesOnline

THE first steps are being taken towards a European sex offenders register, following the case of a Polish rapist who was freed to strike again in Wales.

Welsh Labour MEP Eluned Morgan raised the case of Josef Zygmunt Kurek with the European Commission following Western Mail coverage of his conviction in Swansea last November.

Last night, following confirmation that there will be more sharing of information between national police forces in serious cases, Ms Morgan issued a warning to sex offenders,

  • "There will soon be nowhere in the EU to hide".

She said,

  • "Freedom of movement is an important and fundamental right of the EU, but we must ensure that this freedom is not abused.
  • "If someone has a criminal conviction in one EU country, particularly in the case of sex offenders, there must be a mechanism in place to ensure tabs are kept on him in any other EU country he may move to."

Kurek, 41, was jailed for life for the rape of a Neath Valley woman. He had previously served a nine-year sentence for rape in his home country, but was unknown to the authorities here.

Following our coverage of the case, Ms Morgan asked the European Commission to ensure that the EU's immigrant worker scheme was co-ordinated with police to ensure convicted offenders could be identified wherever they live in Europe. The MEP also called for a European-wide register of sex offenders.

She said,

  • "We have a duty to protect people throughout the EU from known offenders and ensure these offenders are not allowed to slip into another EU country unnoticed. Cases like that of Kurek cannot be allowed to happen again."

Responding to Ms Morgan's request, the European Commission has now said that although it is not considering creating an EU-wide sex offender register, it is working to establish an EU index of convictions and introduce a computerised conviction information exchange system.

The system would mean police forces would have easy access to a list of EU convicted criminals and be able to request EU criminal records to check convictions with ease. A study on the system is currently underway.

The European Parliament has also recently approved legislation which will force EU countries to share information on convicted child sex abusers.

It is being brought in to prevent sex offenders from moving to countries where they are unknown in order to work with children.

Under the plans, child protection authorities will be obliged to provide sentencing information on child care workers to authorities from other countries on request.

Ms Morgan said,

  • "Offenders should be warned that once these measures are in place, there will be nowhere for them to hide in the EU.
  • "I welcome these measures as a step in the right direction, but there is still much more we could do."

Sex offences

Using the controversial sentencing guidelines highlighted in the case of paedophile Craig Sweeney, the judge in Kurek's case said he should serve a minimum of five years before being considered for parole.

Judge Christopher Morton expressed exasperation at difficulties in getting details of Kurek's past sex offences. He asked the prosecutor for details of Kurek's offending in Poland, but was told the Crown Prosecution Service had been able to get few details from Interpol.

Swansea Crown Court was told that, as well as serving a jail sentence for the rape conviction in Poland, Kurek had also served a four-year jail term there for an attempted rape.