02/08/2010

Sex Offender 'Watch' Underway

A scheme that helps keep children safe by allowing parents to ask police whether people with access to their family are sex offenders rolls-out nationally today, the Home Secretary has announced.

The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme provides members of the public with a way to check whether people who have contact with their children are a possible risk - and if it can help keep children safe the police will pass on information.

Having already protected more than 60 children from abuse during its pilot, the scheme is expanding to eight additional forces from today, taking the total number of areas covered to 12. A further 12 forces will come online by the autumn and the remainder of areas by spring next year.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "The roll-out of this scheme is an important step forward for child protection in this country. Being able to make these checks reassures parents and the community and more importantly keeps children safer.

"Not only will it help parents, carers or guardians ensure that their children are safe, but it also assists the police in managing known sex offenders living in the community more effectively.

"The start of the nationwide roll-out will mean even more children will be protected from potential harm."

Under the scheme a parent, carer, guardian or another interested party, can ask the police to check whether someone who has access to their children has a record of committing child sexual offences.

If they are found to have convictions for sexual offences against children, and pose a risk of causing serious harm to the child or children concerned, then this information may be disclosed.

ACPO lead on the Management of Sexual and Violent Offenders, Chief Constable Paul West, said: "One of the police service's most fundamental roles is to do whatever we can to protect people from harm. The introduction of the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme represents a major development in our ability to safeguard children.

"As well as empowering parents, carers or guardians to take active steps to protect their children, some of the cases experienced in the pilot force areas have involved concerns raised by extended family members and neighbours. Their actions have undoubtedly led to children being protected from potential harm."

(BMcC/GK)

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