Sarah’s Law uncovers nine paedophiles

Sarah Payne, whose death inspired Sarah's Law, which has helped protect hundreds of children from harm
Sarah Payne, whose death inspired Sarah's Law, which has helped protect hundreds of children from harm

A host of paedophiles living in St Helens have been identified since the introduction of “Sarah’s Law”, the Reporter can today reveal.

In total 25 applications for information were made in the borough, with nine resulting in a child sex offender being revealed.

The disclosure scheme was named after murder victim Sarah Payne.

She was killed in 2000 by convicted child sex offender Roy Whiting after being snatched from the street near her home.

Rules governing the scheme state a parent or guardian can ask police if someone who has contact with children is a child sex offender.

“There must be sufficient access to or connection with the child by the subject to pose a real risk of harm and therefore justify disclosure,” say the rules governing the scheme.

Police say the scheme is designed to help parents and law enforcement agencies to protect children. A Merseyside Police spokesman said: “We can confirm that 25 applications under the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme applications were made in the St Helens area during this period between March 2011 and July this year.

“The scheme is about safeguarding and protecting children from harm. It allows parents, guardians or any third party to make an application to find out if there is information they need to know about in order to protect a child/children.

“If there is a need to pass information to someone in order to allow them to better protect a child, then the police will disclose to whoever is in a position to use, or need, that information.

“Although each case is considered separately, in consultation with partner agencies, disclosure will only be made to those people who are in a position to best protect or safeguard a child.

“The scheme builds on existing processes to proactively manage sexual and violent offenders through the forces’ Family Crime Investigation Units and Public Protection Unit under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA).

“Although disclosure already takes place when children are deemed to be at risk, the scheme enables parents, guardians and third parties to apply directly for information themselves.

“Anyone can make an application for disclosure about someone who has contact with a child under this scheme.”

Since the law came into force in March 2011, 129 applications have been made to Merseyside Police, with 107 resulting in no disclosure.

Child safety campaigners, however, fear there has been a low take up of the scheme.

Donald Findlater, director of research and development at child protection charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, said: “Given the apparent drop in applications since the start of the scheme, albeit small, we have some concern that people may not know the scheme is available to them.

“We would like to see continued public awareness and publicity, whether by local forces or nationally by the Home Office, so that people know that this means of checking someone out exists.”

Under Sarah’s Law, police will reveal details confidentially if they think it is in the child’s interests.