Sex criminals in Scotland have admitted changing their names over 500 times in the past three years, the Scottish Conservatives can reveal.
Police Scotland have received 521 notifications of convicted sex offenders changing their identities since 2019.
Under existing laws they are allowed to do so, despite concerns that some predators hide their pasts in order to strike again.
A Scottish Conservative Freedom of Information request to Police Scotland found that they were notified 161 times of sex offenders changing their names in 2019-20, with 162 the following year.
In 2021/22, that rose to a record 198. Jason Graham raped and murdered Glasgow pensioner Esther Brown in November 2021.
He was reportedly using the name Jason Evans after serving a prison sentence for raping a nurse in her own home.
The Scottish Conservatives have called on the SNP government to close the “dangerous loophole”.
Scottish Conservative Shadow Community Safety Minister, Russell Findlay MSP, said:
“It makes my blood run cold to think that hundreds of potentially dangerous sex offenders are free to wipe the slate clean and roam free in society with the full knowledge of the authorities.
“By far the greatest number of victims of such crimes are women and children.
“Casually allowing predators to change their names inevitably puts them at increased risk.
“Esther Brown’s killer was able to hide in plain sight just by swapping his surname, despite being convicted of a heinous sex crime.
“People would have no idea if someone living next door is legitimate or hiding a serious conviction and SNP ministers must close this dangerous loophole before more innocent people are harmed.
“The Scottish Conservatives would ban sex offender name changes to ensure that public safety is the priority, unlike the SNP who would rather pander to criminals.”