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17 September 2010, 16:30
A new scheme aimed to protect Suffolk children from sex offenders has been hailed a success by police one month after its launch.
The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Process (CSODP) allows parents, carers and guardians to make enquiries about people who are in contact with children. The scheme comes under the banner 'Keeping Children Safe', with eight applications made so far.
Four have led to full disclosure, with one resulting in a 55-year-old registered sex offender given a six-month prison sentence. In two cases, Suffolk Constabulary has worked closely with other forces where the mother and child concerned lived in a neighbouring county.
The scheme builds on existing processes to proactively manage registered sex offenders by the public protection unit under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). Disclosures to parents, carers and guardians of children who may be at risk already took place prior to the schemes existence.
DCI Stuart McCallum from the force's Public Protection Directorate
said: "Protecting children from harm is of utmost importance to us.
Through our enquiries, the introduction of the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Process has already flagged up a registered sex offender who had breached his sexual offences prevention order by having contact with a child. This individual was arrested and has since been sentenced to 26 weeks' imprisonment."
If individuals are found to have child sex offence convictions and pose a serious threat to a child, then information may be disclosed to the child's parent, carer or guardian. Disclosure cannot be guaranteed in all cases, but the safeguarding of children will be the key-determining factor. The timescale for the complete process is no more than 45 days.
Four police forces initially piloted the scheme in September 2008, with a further 20, including Suffolk, adopting the scheme in August 2010."
DCI McCallum added: "The scheme represents a valuable addition to existing child safeguarding measures and will enhance the efforts of all agencies and the public to keep children safe."
Detective Inspector Duncan Shepherd spoke to Heart and said of the 8 enquiries: "It's about in line with what we were expecting. It's in line with what other forces have experienced with regards to numbers."
He added: "What we want to do is to raise awareness to members of the public that the scheme does exist. We obviously encourage people to phone Suffolk constabulary on the main switchboard number and if they have any concerns to discuss them with the people there and if they can make an application to make one.
With this process it is about keeping children safe. It is important that members of the public know that they have access to this information in certain circumstances so that they can help protect children as well as the police and other agencies.
We obviously would want more inquiries. The more we have, the more people, the more children we can protect and help protect. It's building on existing processes which pro-actively manage people who have child sex offences."
Prior to the launch of the scheme, Suffolk Constabulary worked closely and consulted with partner agencies, such as Children's and Young Peoples Services and MAPPA to ensure the correct processes were put in place to enable the scheme to run effectively.
The Suffolk Police switchboard number is 01473 613 500.