Sarah's Law In The Thames Valley - One Year On

1 August 2011, 05:00

A year after parents in the Thames Valley could ask the police if a sex offender has come into contact with their child - Heart's found out there have been 97 applications.

The figures for Sarah's Law are for the first 11 months of the scheme and show four of those people enquired about was a sex offender.

The controversial scheme allows parents to ask about the criminal history of family members, teachers, neighbours or anyone who comes into contact with their child to find out if they are a registered sex offender.

After officers have investigated parents' concerns they'll reveal confidential details if they think it's in the best interests of the child. Grandparents and neighbours can also go to police with any suspicions.

The scheme has been adopted nationwide after extensive campaigning by Sara Payne, whose daughter Sarah (pictured top right) was killed by paedophile Roy Whitting in July 2000.

The scheme is a lesser version of Megan's Law in the US where paedophiles' names and address are actively published.

Peter Bradley from the anti-abuse charity Kidscape says although the number of disclosures is low - the scheme is working well. He said critics were worried people would take action into their own hands:

"There were a lot of concerns about vigilante groups and if you have vigilante groups you have offenders going underground, which means it's very difficult for police and the authorities to manage the offender, but that hasn't happened."

                                                       Hear more from Peter Bradley here

Sarah's Law, otherwise known as the Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme, was piloted successfully in four police areas in September 2008 before being rolled out by the Home Office to all 43 forces in England and Wales in April 2011.