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3 March 2010, 10:57 | Updated: 3 March 2010, 11:08
Giving members of the public added reassurance about those in contact with their children is the aim behind a pioneering new scheme which is to be rolled out in Sussex from August.
Sussex Police is one of 18 forces to introduce the Child Sex Offender Disclosure scheme, which provides parents, carers and guardians - or other interested parties - a formal channel to make enquiries about people who have access to their children.
The so called 'Sarah's Law' is named after Sarah Payne, the 8 year old kidnapped from a field at Kingston Gorse and murdered by Crawley paedophile, Roy Whiting in July 2000
The scheme has already been piloted in four forces over a 12 month period, which ended last year. The Home Secretary today (Wednesday 3 March) named Sussex as one of the first forces to be part of the initial roll out and it is hoped that by the end of March next year every police force in England and Wales will operate the scheme.
Assistant Chief Constable for Sussex Police Olivia Pinkney said: "Following the successful national pilots Sussex Police is pleased to be part of the next stage of the implementation of the Child Sex Offender Review Disclosure scheme. This will further enhance and support the child safeguarding and public protection procedures currently in place within the county.
"The scheme - which will start in Sussex in August 2010 following training and briefing of police officers and staff who will be involved in the process - will allow a parent, carer or guardian the right to request that an individual who has access to their child or children is checked out for a record of child sex offences.
"Sussex Police will take all steps to ensure that any information disclosed will only be used to protect those identified children and not inappropriately used."
The new national scheme builds on the UK's existing system for actively managing sex offenders - one of the most robust in the world. This includes:
- The success of the Child Exploitation and On-Line Protection centre (CEOP) which has disrupted 205 high risk sex offender networks, arresting 821 suspected offenders and safeguarding 515 children; and
- The Criminal Records Bureau which has stopped numerous inappropriate people working with children and vulnerable adults.
Chief Constable for West Mercia Police, Paul West, is the ACPO lead on managing sexual and violent offenders. He said: "These new arrangements are a major development in safeguarding children. They empower members of the public to initiate action aimed at protecting children and will help to increase public confidence in the police and other responsible authorities as part of their role in monitoring sex offenders.
"In addition to enabling parents, carers or guardians to take active steps to protect their children, some of the cases that have arisen during the pilots have included extended family members and neighbours who have raised concerns. Their interventions have undoubtedly resulted in children being protected from potential abuse."