Home secretary Jacqui Smith today announced plans to extend a pilot allowing parents to obtain information about whether people with access to their children pose a risk, claiming it had already protected ten children.
The scheme has been dubbed “Sarah’s Law”, in reference to Sarah Payne, whose mother Sara has campaigned for greater access to information on sex offenders for parents, and “Megan’s Law”, the US legislation which provides communities with information on paedophiles living in their areas.
However, the Child Sex Offender Disclosure pilot provides much more restricted access to information than Megan’s Law. Parents can request that a check for child sex offences be run on an individual with access to their children.
If the individual is found to have convictions for child sex offences and poses a risk of causing serious harm to the children, the information may be disclosed to the person best placed to protect the child – usually the parent, carer or guardian.
The Home Office said today that since last September, when the pilot was launched in Cleveland, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire and Warwickshire, police forces have received 153 enquiries and 79 applications for information from parents or guardians. They have made 10 disclosures.
Smith said today that the scheme, which was being piloted in particular areas of Cleveland, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire, would be extended force-wide, as is already the case in Warwickshire.
She said: “Today’s results are extremely encouraging – this pilot has provided crucial protection for children who might otherwise be at risk.”
She said a full evaluation of the pilot would be made at the end of the year and it would be rolled out nationally if deemed a success.