Sarah’s Law: Do you live next door to a sex offender? Here’s how to check this

Latest government statistics show that more than 62,000 people on the Register of sex offenders live in the UK.

Dangerous criminals in our communities can be monitored through multi-agency public safeguards used by police and other government officials.

The latest data from the Department of Justice (MoJ) shows that there were 62,435 registered sex offenders in the UK at the end of March 2020.

This number has continued to increase year on year and has almost doubled in the last decade. In 2009/10 there were 34,939 offenders.

As of March this year, 119 registered sex offenders have been monitored for every 100,000 people.

Sex offenders sentenced to at least 30 months in prison remain on the register indefinitely – although some can request removal after 15 years following a change in the law in 2012.

Not surprisingly, the staggering number of predators in our communities can worry many parents and guardians.

If you are concerned about a child’s safety, you may be entitled to find out if there are registered sex offenders living in your area.

What is Sarah’s law?

The Argus: Michael and Sara Payne, parents of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne, campaigned to have the law enacted in 2011 (PA)Michael and Sara Payne, parents of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne, campaigned to have the law enacted in 2011 (PA)

Sarah’s Law, officially known as the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, was introduced after the kidnapping and murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne by pedophile Roy Whiting in 2000.

The scheme allows people in England and Wales to ask police if anyone with access to a child has been convicted or suspected of child abuse.

Officers will investigate people’s backgrounds and release details in private, usually to parents of guardians if they feel it is in the best interest of the child.

Applications under Sarah’s law can be made by anyone, but the police only notify the person who is able to protect the child.

For example, a grandparent may inquire about their daughter’s new partner, but police would then inform the mother, not the grandparent, if the partner was found to have a history of sexual offenses.

Who is included in the sex offender registry?

The Argus: Who Gets on the Sex Offender Registry?Who is included in the sex offender registry?

Anyone who receives a warning or conviction for a sex offense is placed on the sex offender register, including anyone who commits a sex offense online.

What constitutes a “sex offender” does not necessarily mean “paedophile”.

There are a number of crimes that may be considered sex crimes, including non-consensual crimes such as rape or sexual assault, crimes against children, including sexual abuse or child sexual abuse, and crimes involving the exploitation of others for sexual purposes.

The entry in the register of sex offenders takes different lengths of time depending on the type of crime:

• A life sentence of 30 months = remains on record indefinitely

• A prison sentence of 6 to 30 months = registration for 10 years

• A prison sentence of less than 6 months = seven years on the register

• One community order record = registered for five years

• A warning issued = for two years on the register

With the exception of imprisonment of 30 months or more, the reporting period for minors (criminals under the age of 18) is halved.

How do I access the information?

The Argus: Sarah's Law was introduced in 2011Sarah’s Law was introduced in 2011

Important: If you feel a child is in imminent danger, you should call 999 immediately.

In all other non-emergency circumstances, you can request information about a child you can or can protect by calling 101 or by visiting your local police station.

Alternatively, you can go to a police station and ask for a Child Sexual Offenders Disclosure Scheme Form (Sarah’s Law) or Form 284.

If police checks show that the person has a criminal record of sexual offenses against children or other offenses that could endanger the child, the police will consider sharing this information.

Disclosure is not always guaranteed, and police only consider informing the person best placed to protect the child — usually a parent, caregiver, or guardian — if the person being screened has sexual concerns offenses against children or other offenses suggesting they could pose a risk to a child.

The police will only release information when it is lawful, necessary and proportionate in the interests of protecting the child or children from harm.

Even if they do share the information, parents and guardians must keep the information confidential and only use it to protect their child.

Legal action can be taken if confidentiality is violated.

For more advice and information on protecting children from abuse, go to protect parents Website. Sarah’s Law: Do you live next door to a sex offender? Here’s how to check this

Fry Electronics Team

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