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Protecting children

3 March 2010

Today the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, announced the roll-out of a pioneering scheme that will improve protection for children. The child sex offender disclosure scheme gives members of the public a formal mechanism to make enquires about people who are in contact with children.

Under the terms of the scheme, a parent, carer or guardian or another interested party can request that an individual who has access to their child or children is checked to see whether they have a record of committing child sexual offences.

Piloted in four police areas over the past year, the scheme will roll out to a further 18 police force areas from August and will reach all forces by the end of March 2011.

Robust system

Alan Johnson said, ‘I am determined to do all I can to protect children and families from sex offenders. The UK already has one of the most robust systems in the world for the management of sex offenders, the new scheme will build on this ensuring more children are kept safe.’

The disclosure scheme pilot protected more than 60 children from potential abuse over the 12-month period. The police areas involved received 585 enquiries and 315 applications, with 21 disclosures made about registered child sex offenders. A further 11 general disclosures were made, while another 43 cases led to a range of other child safeguarding actions. 

Sara Payne, Victims’ Champion, said, ‘The evaluation has shown the huge benefits of increased but controlled access to information. The input of the police, children’s charities and academics to the pilots has ensured consensus has been reached and we are working together to keep children safe.’ 

The disclosure scheme builds on the UK’s existing system for actively managing sex offenders. This system includes the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), the Criminal Records Bureau and multi-agency public protection arrangements.  

The government has also further strengthened powers to protect children being exploited for sex. Tough new closure orders targeting premises associated with child prostitution or child pornography come into effect on 1 April.  

Find out more

You can read more about the pilot on Directgov (new window) and discover contact information for raising concerns with the police and NSPCC.

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