Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme
Threats to a child's safety are more likely to originate from a family member or a friend of a family than a complete stranger. Around 75 per cent of child sex offenders are related to or known to their victim. The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme has been developed to respond to this.
The scheme allows members of the public - parents, carers, guardians or interested third parties - to ask the police to tell them about a person's record of child sex offences if they are concerned about that person's access to a child.
The police already disclose information about registered sex offenders and violent offenders in a controlled way to a variety of people, including headteachers, leisure centre managers, employers, landlords and parents. The disclosure scheme is an additional tool that the police can use to keep children safe.
Since the scheme was launched by West Mercia Police in August 2010, the force has received hundreds of enquiries from the public, more than 100 of which were taken forward as formal applications and 16 disclosures were made (figures up to end of March 2012). Three further disclosures were made about other information relevant to safeguarding children.
When Will Information Be Disclosed?
Disclosure will only happen if the police believe there is a need to protect a child and that it is necessary and proportionate. Information will only be disclosed to the person best-placed to protect the child and anyone receiving this information must keep it confidential and use it only to protect the child concerned.
The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme is not a UK version of 'Megan's Law', the scheme which operates in the USA and makes all information about sex offenders publicly available. Anyone who breaches the confidence of the UK scheme may have action taken against them by the police.
Registered sex offenders living in West Mercia will be generally informed about the scheme. Individual offenders may be told if information relating to them is going to be disclosed and who it will be disclosed to.
If there is no information to disclose, this does not necessarily mean there is no risk to the child.
How Can I Request Information?
Requests for disclosure can be made directly to a police officer, at a police station, by phone or contact the force by email (see our Contact Us section for full details of the ways to get in touch).
If you think a child is in immediate danger you should always call 999 and raise your concerns - we will deal with your call under existing child protection arrangements.
All requests for information are dealt with by West Mercia Police's specialist Public Protection Unit, which has active measures in place to manage potentially dangerous offenders.
Find Out More
We've produced some information leaflets that explain further the information on this page for you to download and print out. You will require Adobe Reader to view these files:
- Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme Summary Leaflet
- Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme Full Overview Leaflet
You can also find a wealth of resources, information and guidance about child sexual abuse awareness and prevention at the Parents Protect! website. The site is supported by the Home Office and run by Stop it Now! UK and Ireland and the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, a child protection charity, supported by an alliance of voluntary and statutory sector partners.