West Mercia Police are due to be one of the early adopters of the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, meaning parents can do even more to keep their children safe.
The scheme, which was piloted by four police forces between Sept 2008 and Sept last year, has now been extended and phase one will be launched this August.
Parents and other adults with an interest in protecting children can apply for information about someone who comes into contact with a child they have responsibility for.
For instance a grandmother who is concerned about her daughter’s new partner may want to find out about their past and if they have any relevant criminal history. She can apply for information from West Mercia Police in a number of ways:
• Call the main non emergency number 0300 333 3000
• Call in to your local police station
• Email the force via the website www.westmercia.police.uk
West Mercia Police Chief Constable Paul West is the Association of Chief Police Officers lead on the management of violent and sexual offenders. He said:
“There is no exact science as to what information will be disclosed, it will depend on the individual circumstances, but each enquiry will be treated in confidence and with sensitivity, with officers having received specific training. We realise that some meetings may need to be conducted on neutral ground for those who don’t want to come into police stations or have the police visiting their home addresses.
Preparation for this scheme is another good example of the police working alongside other statutory and voluntary agencies with a common aim in mind – keeping children safe.”
Under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) or under the Safeguarding Children Arrangements, information is disclosed to an individual or group where it is felt necessary or proportionate to protect children from harm.
MAPPA is the process through which the police, probation and prison services work together with other agencies to manage the risks posed by violent and sexual offenders living in the community in order to protect the public.
The Safeguarding Children Arrangements involve a number of agencies working together to promote children’s welfare and help protect children from abuse and neglect.
The police already disclose information about registered sex offenders in a controlled way and to a variety of people including head teachers, leisure centre managers, employers and landlords, as well as parents.
Disclosure may also take place under the Safeguarding Children Arrangements where Children’s Services may disclose information held by the authorities in a managed way where it is felt necessary to protect children under Section 47 of The Children Act.
All individuals who receive a disclosure are warned that the information must remain confidential and that it should only be used to protect the child or children concerned from the risk of harm.
In all cases the police consider which individual or individuals need to be given the information in order to protect children from risk of harm. In some cases it is recognised that this will be more than one individual, for example where there is more than one carer of a child who needs to be aware to prevent the risk, or where further children are identified as being at risk. In these cases it might be necessary for the police to disclose the information to others.