Parents will be able to check whether adults close to their children are convicted sex offenders
The ‘Sarah’s Law’ scheme, which allows parents to check whether adults who have access to their children are convicted sex offenders, is to be rolled out nationally.
The scheme has been piloted in four areas, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Cleveland and Warwickshire. It is named after eight-year-old Sarah Payne, who was killed by the convicted paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000.
All parents will be given the right to ask police for information on sex convictions of any adult who has ‘regular, unsupervised’ access to their children.
The police could also pass on information about other worrying behaviour, such as domestic violence and unproven complaints of abuse. A single mother will be able to ask for details about a new boyfriend, for example.
Sarah Payne’s mother, Sara, has campaigned for a scheme since her daughter’s murder.
There have been concerns that a scheme that identifies paedophiles could drive sex offenders underground. Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat shadow home secretary said that ‘more information’ about the trials was needed before the scheme was rolled out. ‘The concern is that this will do nothing for the safety of children and could even lead to an increase in sex offenders,’ he said.
Sarah’s Law stops short of the American version, Megan’s Law, under which a community is informed if a convicted sex offender moves in, reports the Guardian.
Researchers at De Montford University analysed the results of the British trial and found that most applications did not result in any disclosure because the police did not judge that the child was at risk.
However, of 194 cases it studied, at least 24 children had been at risk from sex offenders.
In one case, a parents was concerned about a neighbour who was trying to befriend her children. He was found to be a child sex offender in breach of his bail conditions and was arrested, reports the Mail.