West Midlands Police are empowering members of the public to help protect children from sex offenders thanks to the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, or sometimes known as Sarah's Law.
Under the scheme, a parent, carer, guardian or another interested party can ask the police to check whether someone who has access to their children has a record of committing child sexual offences.
If they are found to have convictions for sexual offences against children and pose a risk of causing serious harm to the child or children concerned, then this information may be disclosed.
The police already disclose information about registered sex offenders and violent offenders in a controlled way to a variety of people, including head-teachers, leisure centre managers, employers, landlords and parents. The disclosure scheme is an additional tool that the police can use to help keep children safe.
Threats to a child’s safety are more likely to originate from a family member or a friend of a family than a complete stranger. Around 75 per cent of child sex offenders are related to or known to their victim. The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme has been developed to respond to this.
Disclosure will only happen if the police believe there is a need to protect a child and that it is necessary and proportionate. Information will only be disclosed to the person best placed to protect the child and anyone receiving this information must keep it confidential and use it only to protect the child concerned.
If there is no information to disclose, this does not necessarily mean there is no risk to the child.
Requests for disclosure can be made directly to a police officer, at a police station, or by phone and email. Please visit the ‘Contact Us’ page for further details.
All requests for information are dealt with by West Midlands Police’s Public Protection unit, which has active measures in place to manage potentially dangerous offenders.
If you think a child is in danger you should always call 999 and raise your concerns immediately.
Parents who are concerned about the safety of their children can go to any police force to raise their concerns – every force already has a public protection team to deal with these issues.
For more information about the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, please click here (PDF - 2.5 MB) or visit www.direct.gov.uk/keepingchildrensafe. You will require Adobe Reader to view these files.
For more information on how to protect children from sexual abuse, please visit www.parentsprotect.co.uk.