Increase in number of South Yorkshire parents warned by police that sex offenders have access to their children

The number of parents told by South Yorkshire Police that sex offenders have access to their children has increased over recent years, according to new figures.

Friday, 17th January 2020, 9:37 am
Updated Friday, 17th January 2020, 2:02 pm

Sarah’s Law, officially known as the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, was introduced following the abduction and murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne, by paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000.

It allows anyone to ask their local police force if someone close to them has a record of committing crimes against children.

Such disclosures have nearly doubled since the law was introduced in 2011, rising from 120 a year to 219 annually across the UK, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

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Sarah Payne was murdered by a paedophile

Out of the 46 UK forces, 22 returned data revealing at least 1,427 disclosures have been made to parents since 2011.

In South Yorkshire, there were 60 applications for information made in 2011/12, 68 in 2016/17 and 109 in 2018/19.

Information was disclosed on 14 occasions in 2011/12, seven times in 2016/17 and another 25 times in 2018/19.

Applications under Sarah's Law can be made by anyone, but the police will only pass on information to the person who is able to protect the child.

Officers will look into the background of individuals and reveal details confidentially if they think it is in the interest of a child.

Donald Findlater, director of child abuse helpline Stop It Now!, said it was ‘reassuring’ to see the figures growing.

Mr Findlater, who sat on the panel consulting with the government before the scheme became law, said: “I think the rise is demonstrating a level of interest in safeguarding children and seeking information greater than we have had historically.

“I would like to see this trend continue because it is demonstrating awareness and vigilance.

“One-in-10 children experience sexual abuse and one of the biggest problems is people are blind to the reality of it and think, 'it won't happen around here'.

“The fact that people are making the applications demonstrates to me that people are aware that the children they love and care about may be vulnerable to abuse.”