Suffolk: Police agree to releasing details of 57 child sex offenders in response to Sarah’s Law

Almost 60 successful requests under Sarah's Law have been made Almost 60 successful requests under Sarah's Law have been made

Monday, December 23, 2013
6:00 AM

Almost 60 requests by concerned parents to identify child sex offenders in the community have been accepted by Suffolk police, it can be revealed today.

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Eight-year-old Sarah Payne. Her mother Sara Payne has led a high-profile campaign calling for Britain to have a watered-down version of laws in the US in which details of where convicted paedophiles live are actively publicised.Eight-year-old Sarah Payne. Her mother Sara Payne has led a high-profile campaign calling for Britain to have a watered-down version of laws in the US in which details of where convicted paedophiles live are actively publicised.

The figures show that on average there have been around 15 successful applications in the county each year since 2010.

The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, known as Sarah’s Law, was brought in following a campaign by Sara Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter Sarah was murdered by convicted paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000.

It is a watered-down version of laws in the US under which details of where convicted paedophiles live are actively publicised.

Parents and guardians now have the power to ask whether someone who has access to their children is a registered sex offender or poses a risk. Out of 90 requests made to Suffolk police a total of 57 have been accepted.

So far this year there have been 19 requests made, of which 15 have been successful. In 2012, 17 applications were made with 12 being approved.

Under the Home Office scheme, officers will reveal details confidentially if they think it is in the child’s interests.

In Essex, the total number of enquiries since 2011 is 181 but this figure includes all requests of which a number will have been unsuccessful.

There were more than 80 requests in 2012/13 to Essex Police. So far for 2013/14 there have been 49 requests made.

Charities and campaigners have expressed concern that only one in seven applications nationally result in a disclosure and raised questions over how well the scheme is being publicised in the face of waning numbers of requests.

However, other groups said the figures highlighted a “worrying shift of responsibility” away from the State and onto ordinary members of the public in dealing with sex offenders.

Christopher Stacey, director of services at reformed offenders charity Unlock, said: “It is important to strike the right balance between the need to protect the public, and enabling people who have served their sentence and rehabilitated themselves to move on positively with their lives.

“There already exists a detailed framework in place which is designed to enable the police, probation services and other agencies to share information with members of the public where there is a safeguarding concern. As a result, it is unclear what value this scheme is adding, with serious questions about the statistics being used to defend the effectiveness of the scheme.”

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