Dorset Police has lost track of five registered sex offenders.

But officers have refused to reveal who they are or what they were convicted of.

Criminals on the sex offenders register are required to notify police of any changes in circumstances such as a change of address or name.

They must report to a police station every year, regardless of whether there have been any changes.

But one of the offenders missing in Dorset has not been seen since 2014. Three went missing in 2016 and one in 2017.

The news has provoked criticism from charity Victim Support.

Spokesperson Alex Mayes said: "These figures will potentially be very alarming to victims of sexual offences and could undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system.

"To ensure the safety and well-being of survivors of sexual offences, as well as local communities, it is vital that the police strictly monitor sex offenders."

The Dorset offenders are among a shocking 485 convicted sex offenders missing across the UK.

The figures were revealed following Freedom of Information requests from Sky News to all police forces.

None revealed the names of those missing, claiming to so do would breach the Data Protection Act.

But some gave details of the convictions of missing sex offenders which included rape, sexual assault, grooming, possession of indecent images and exposure.

A total of seven offenders are missing in Hampshire with the Metropolitan Police losing track of 227 people. Greater Manchester Police do not know the whereabouts of 19 registered sex offenders and one has been missing since 2006. In the West Midlands there are 46 missing offenders.

Police forces were asked to reveal the number of registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown on January 17.

The forces were also asked when each of the sex offenders went missing and to provide their names and convictions.

Police said the information was "dynamic" and likely to change on a daily basis as arrests are made or new cases come to light.

A Dorset Police said: “The Force has a dedicated response to all reports of sex offenders who go missing. This response is robust and seeks to use numerous methods of investigation. All of those offenders are reviewed on a regular basis.”