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Sarah’s Law led to 17 child sex offenders being identified to parents or guardians in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 17:47 13 September 2017

Sarah Payne, who was abducted and murdered by convicted paedophile Ray Whiting in 2000. Picture: PA

Sarah Payne, who was abducted and murdered by convicted paedophile Ray Whiting in 2000. Picture: PA

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Details of 17 child sex offenders have been disclosed to parents and guardians in Suffolk through a scheme initiated after a young girl was abducted and murdered by a convicted paedophile.

Figures obtained by this newspaper reveal Suffolk police received 224 applications under the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, also known as Sarah’s Law, since its introduction in 2011.

The scheme, which allows people to ask the police if someone with access to a child has a record for child sexual offences, came in response to a campaign following the death of eight-year-old Sarah Payne in 2000. Sarah was abducted and murdered by Roy Whiting who had previously been convicted of abducting and indecently assaulting another young girl.

The campaign called for a UK version of what is known as “Megan’s Law” in the US to make information about sex offenders available to the public.

In Suffolk, 17 of the 224 applications received by police led to disclosures being made - though confidentially to ensure the safety of the public. The number of applications reached a peak of 66 in 2015, but has since decreased.

Deborah Denis, head of fundraising at external relations at The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, a charity dedicated solely to tackling child sexual abuse, said it was not surprising the scheme’s use had declined, as it had not been promoted in recent years.

Ms Denis said while it was important for people to be able to raise concerns with police, “it is vital to remember that we cannot rely on the scheme alone”. She said people should not assume someone was safe just because they are not known to police and encouraged people to be vigilant and take protective actions.

Suffolk police said the disclosure scheme had empowered parents, carers, guardians and the wider public to take steps to protect children.

“The actions of these members of the public have undoubtedly led to children being protected and helped to ensure greater public confidence in the police and other responsible authorities in the monitoring of sex offenders,” a spokesman added.

Visit here to learn about the scheme.

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation advises people to visit here or here to learn more about protecting children.

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