Parents Will Be Able To Run Police Checks For Paedophile Convictions

PUBLISHED: 17:03 16 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:46 04 May 2010

PARENTS will be able to ask police to run checks for paedophile convictions on anyone given access to their children under a scheme being rolled out in Cambridgeshire. The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Pilot will allow parents, carers, or guardians to che

PARENTS will be able to ask police to run checks for paedophile convictions on anyone given access to their children under a scheme being rolled out in Cambridgeshire.

The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Pilot will allow parents, carers, or guardians to check with police if anyone with regular, unsupervised access to their children has child sex offence convictions.

Single mothers will be able to have potential boyfriends checked for sex offence convictions, and neighbours or family members who regularly look after children could also be investigated.

The scheme, also known as Keeping Children Safe is being rolled out in Cambridgeshire after a successful six-month pilot in Peterborough, Hampshire, Cleveland and Warwickshire.

The initiative is a response to the Sarah's Law campaign that followed the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne by a convicted paedophile.

Detective Superintendent John Raine, of Cambridgeshire police, said: "This scheme allows parents, carers and guardians the opportunity to raise any concerns they may have about individuals who have access to their child and seek information about them.

"If disclosing information will increase the level of protection for a child, we will share that information with the child's main carer. The safeguarding of children is paramount."

Any member of the public can apply for information about an individual if they are concerned, but disclosure will only be given to the person best placed to protect the child.

Under the scheme, any disclosure remains a decision for the police in consultation with partner agencies.

Since September there have been 153 enquiries from members of the public across the four pilot areas and 10 disclosures have been made. As part of the scheme a couple with two children discovered a friend who visits their home was the subject of a Sexual Offences Protection Order including a condition not to have unsupervised contact with under 18s.

From September 15, 2008 to February 29, 2009 in Peterborough the scheme received 23 enquiries, nine of which were applications for disclosure. Of those nine, police say it was not necessary or appropriate to make any disclosures. Enquiries were received from parents, grandparents, extended family members and carers.

A police spokesman said: "The figures reflect the normal levels of enquiry we would expect around child protection. From the start of the pilot we always held the view that if just one child was protected from harm as a result then it would be a success.

"A key aim of the pilot is to empower members of the public to better safeguard children."

INFO: The Keeping Children Safe team can be contacted at Cambridgeshire Constabulary on 0845 4564564.

Keeping Children Safe pilot case studies:

n Disclosure and protective action taken:

The parent of two children made an application about a friend. The parent would visit the address of the friend with their children and the friend would visit the applicant's home address. There was no report of any inappropriate behaviour towards children. The subject of the application was the subject of a Sexual Offences Protection Order (SOPO) including a condition not to have unsupervised contact with a child under 18.

Disclosure was made to the parent and guidance was given in relation to preventing the subject having any further contact with the children. The subject was arrested and charged with breach of a SOPO.

n Partial disclosure:

The applicant was concerned about her mother's new boyfriend as the applicant had received information that he was a sexual offender. The applicant applied for disclosure on the boyfriend because her mother provided childcare for children.

The mother's boyfriend did have convictions for sexual offences against adults. It had also been alleged that he had committed child sex offences although no charges were ever brought.

A Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements meeting was held to consider if this information should be shared with the applicant. A decision was made to disclose limited information to applicant and her mother. This was seen as necessary to allow the applicant and her mother to protect the children from harm.

n No disclosure:

The applicant made an application to the pilot scheme about his neighbour. The neighbour was a visitor to the applicant's address and had contact with two children there. This contact occurred at the applicant's address when the children and the neighbour visited at the same time. The neighbour had no previous convictions for child sexual offences and there were no other concerns relevant to safeguarding children in relation to him. In these circumstances no disclosure was necessary.

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