More than a dozen registered child sex offenders in Sussex have been identified by parents concerned about the safety of their children, The Argus can reveal.
The information has been provided to them by Sussex Police under the Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme, better known as Sarah’s Law, which was piloted in 2008 and introduced in Sussex in September 2010, following the murder of eight-year-old school girl Sarah Payne.
The youngster was found in a field near Pulborough, West Sussex, after she was killed by convicted paedophile Roy Whiting in July 2000.
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The Home Office scheme allows parents or guardians to check with police if anyone who comes into contact with their children are on the child sex offenders register and could cause a risk.
According to information released to The Argus following a Freedom of Information request, 214 inquiries have been logged by worried parents since 2011, with at least 13 registered child sex offenders being uncovered.
According to Shoshana Plail who runs Child friendly Brighton and Hove – a website that connects parents with child groups across the city – allowing parents to make these checks is a positive step to keeping children safe.
She said: “It shouldn’t be a situation where parents have to find out for themselves.”
According to Sussex Police’s figures, 45 enquiries were received last year by parents with concerns about adults who may pose a risk to their children, with two registered child sex offenders being uncovered.
A police spokesman added that while 13 identities had been disclosed, there are more ways of dealing with the matter than simply revealing people’s convictions to parents.
While the scheme has been credited with keeping some children safe and has been deemed a credible tool for identifying paedophiles who could cause a risk to children, some charities have warned it needs to be monitored to ensure it is “implemented consistently and correctly”.
Lisa McCindle, a senior analyst with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), said: “The NSPCC has also called for a regular independent evaluation of the scheme so that consideration can be given as to whether it is offering adequate protection to children.
“Statistics are held by individual police forces, so regular independent evaluations would help with understanding the scale of the scheme, and who is using it.”