What is the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme? (Sarah’s Law)
The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme allows parents, carers, guardians or another interested party to ask the police to check if an individual who has contact with a child has a record for child sexual offences.
If police checks show the individual has a record for child sexual offences, or other offences that might put the child at risk, the police will consider sharing this information with the person(s) best placed to protect the child, usually the parent, carer or guardian.
The police will disclose information only if it is lawful, necessary and proportionate to do so in the interests of protecting the child, or children, from harm.
Who is the scheme for?
The scheme is for any member of the public who wants to find out if an individual in contact with a child has a record of child sexual offences. They may have no specific reason to be worried but are just being careful. A single mother, for example, may want to find out a bit more about her new partner before asking them to move in. The police will only consider telling the person best placed to protect the child – usually a parent, carer or guardian – if the person being checked has a record of child sexual offences or other offences that indicate they may pose a risk to a child.
How does the scheme help?
The purpose of this scheme is to help to protect children from harm. The majority of child sexual offenders are known to their victims. They are often someone who has some form of access to a child e.g. a friend of the victim’s family, a friend of the victim, or a member of the victim’s family. The scheme can provide information to parents, carers and guardians about people involved in their children’s lives. The police can also provide guidance on how to spot warning signs of abuse in both their children and individuals that are in contact with their children, that will help them to better safeguard their children.
How do I make an application
It is important to remember that anyone can make an application to the police about an individual who has contact with a child or children. Contacting the police There are many different ways to contact the police. You can:
- visit a police station;
- phone the non-emergency telephone number for the police (unless you believe there is an immediate risk of harm to a child. Then you should call 999);
- speak to a member of the police on the street.
Your police force may also offer other ways of contacting them. They will advertise these locally.
What else is done to keep children safe?
Every police force already has a public protection team to manage sexual and violent offenders and protect children from harm. This scheme is about ensuring people can speak to the police about their concerns in the knowledge that they will be taken seriously. It sets up a formal process for members of the public to register their concerns and to receive feedback on how those concerns were acted upon. In allowing members of the public to register their interest in a named individual, the authorities may become aware of a relationship between a child and a registered sex offender of which they were not previously aware.