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A pioneering scheme to improve protection for children launches in Gloucestershire on Friday.
The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme allows people to apply to police for information on people who come into contact with children, to see if they have any previous convictions for offences against children.
Neil Kelly, of Gloucestershire’s Public Protection Bureau, says:
"This new scheme should prove extremely valuable in protecting children in Gloucestershire from the risk of abuse.
"We and our partners are fully committed to working with the community to prevent harm to those who are among the most vulnerable in our society and this extra tool will assist us to do so."
If an individual is found to have convictions for sexual offences against children, and poses a risk of causing serious harm to the child or children concerned, then this information may be disclosed to the person best placed to protect the child – usually the parent, carer or guardian.
To make an enquiry please ring the Gloucestershire Public Protection Bureau Central Referral Unit on 01242 247999 or ring 0845 090 1234.
Frequently asked questions:
How does the Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme work?
Any member of the public can apply under the scheme for information about a specific person who has contact with a child(ren). Applications will be processed, but disclosure is not guaranteed. Even if there are no firm grounds for suspicion, the applicant can trigger an investigation to find out if the subject (the person they are asking about) has a known history that means they might be of risk to children.
Third parties with concerns (e.g. grandparents or neighbours) about an individual who has contact with children are also invited to use the scheme. However, where appropriate, information will only be given to those best placed to protect a child.
How do people apply for information?
They should ring the Gloucestershire Public Protection Bureau Central Referral Unit on 01242 247999 or ring the force control room on 0845 090 1234.
How are registered sexual offenders usually managed?
The police and their partners have a statutory responsibility to manage registered sex offenders. All registered sex offenders are subject to MAPPA (Multi Agency Public Protection Agency) procedures. MAPPA aims to reduce the risk posed by offenders to the community.
Will the subject know they are being checked out, and who asked for it?
No, confidentiality will be maintained unless a disclosure takes place. If a disclosure does take place the subject may be informed that the applicant is to receive a disclosure about them. Risk assessments will take place for each disclosure.
If disclosure takes place, can applicants warn family and friends about the sexual or violent offender?
Information about disclosure must be treated as confidential. It is only being given so that steps can be taken to protect children. Applicants must not share this information with anyone else unless they have spoken to the police, or the person who gave them the information, and the police have agreed that it can be shared. In considering disclosure, all relevant persons will be informed.
What will be done to stop offenders becoming victims of vigilantism?
The police and other agencies are in regular contact with offenders and the disclosure process will be carefully managed. If anyone feels they are likely to become a victim of vigilantism or have been targeted, they should contact the police. In all cases of disclosure, the risks to the offender and the community impact will be considered, however the protection of children will be the key determining factor.
What happens if someone tries to make a false application?
Making a false declaration in an attempt to procure the disclosure of personal data to which someone does not have a lawful right of access is an offence under the Data Protection Act 1998. This offence is more commonly referred to as 'blagging' and is punishable by an unlimited fine at Crown Court. Therefore, anyone providing false information in registering their interest or misusing any information disclosed, for example, by engaging in vigilantism on their own behalf, or on behalf of others, or the harassment of sex offenders, would be subject to police intervention and potential prosecution for any offences identified.