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Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme:
How do I apply for information?
You can either visit any police station in Sussex, call 0845 60 70 999 or apply electronically via www.sussex.police.uk
Who deals with my request?
Your request will be managed by trained officers who work in the Force's Specialist Investigations Branch. They will contact you once your request has been recorded by the Sussex Police Contact Centre. We will require information about you, the child you believe may be at risk and the person you are concerned about.
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 there is a disclosure, the subject may be informed that the applicant is to receive information 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.
How are registered sexual offenders usually managed?
The police have a statutory responsibility to manage registered sex offenders (RSOs). All RSOs are subject to Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). MAPPA aims to reduce the risk posed by offenders to the community.
Does disclosure already take place?
Yes it does. Under MAPPA or Safeguarding Children Arrangements, information is disclosed to an individual or group where it is felt necessary or proportionate to protect children from abuse.
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.