The Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme (Sarah's Law)
Information about people who pose a risk to children can be given to parents and guardians under the Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme, also known as Sarah’s Law.
The Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme enables parents, guardians and third parties to enquire whether a person who has access to a child, is a registered sex offender, or poses a risk to that child. Consideration will also be given to disclosing information about a person who poses a risk to a vulnerable adult(s).
Under the scheme, a parent, guardian or third party can make an application to find out if there is information which they need to know about in order to protect a child(ren) in their care. 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 will be 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 is in addition to processes which proactively manage sexual and violent offenders by the Dorset Police 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 living in Dorset can make an application for disclosure about someone who has contact with a child(ren). The person they are enquiring about must also live in Dorset. But if you have concerns about anyone, please still report it to the police.
Frequently Asked Questions
Any member of the public can approach Dorset Police to apply under the Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme, for information regarding a specific person who has contact with a child(ren). The police will process the application, but disclosure is not guaranteed. Even if there are no firm grounds for suspicion, the applicant can trigger an investigation to find out if the subject (the person they are asking about) has a known history that means they might be of risk to children.
Third parties with concerns (e.g. grandparents or neighbours) about an individual who has contact with children are also invited to use the scheme. However, where appropriate, disclosure will only be given to parents and guardians or those best placed to protect a child.
If you consider that a child is at immediate risk then you should call 999 to report your concerns.
In all other circumstances (non-emergencies):
- Telephone 101
- Complete our Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme Online Initial Contact Form by following this link
- In person at a Dorset police station
The information you will need to provide initially will be :
- Your details: name, date of birth, address, telephone number.
- The details of the individual that you are enquiring about.
- The details of the children that have contact with the individual.
- Any specific concerns/suspicion that you have regarding the individual.
After providing the above details you will subsequently be contacted (during office hours Monday - Friday) by a police officer from the Dorset Police Safeguarding Referral Unit who will confirm receipt of your application and explain the next stage of the process.
They should contact the police or their local Children’s Service and the usual child safeguarding procedures will be triggered.
Yes it does. Under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) or under the Safeguarding Children Arrangements, information is disclosed to an individual or group where it is felt necessary or proportionate to protect children from abuse.
MAPPA is the process through which the police, probation and prison services work together with other agencies to manage the risks posed by sex offenders, and violent offenders living in the community in order to protect the public.
The Safeguarding Children Arrangements involve a number of agencies working together to promote children’s welfare and help protect children from abuse. Disclosure may also take place under the Safeguarding Children Arrangements, where Children’s Services may disclose information held by the authorities in a managed way; where it is felt necessary to protect children under Section 47 of The Children Act.
This scheme enables parents, guardians and third parties to find out about possible sexual offenders or violent offenders who may be in contact with their children or a child they know.
The police have a statutory responsibility to manage registered sex offenders. All registered sex offenders are subject to Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) procedures. MAPPA aims to reduce the risk posed by offenders to the community.
No, confidentiality will be maintained unless a disclosure takes place. If a disclosure does take place the subject may be informed that the applicant is to receive a disclosure about them. Risk assessments will take place for each disclosure.
Information about disclosure must be treated as confidential. It is only being given so that steps can be taken to protect children. Applicants must not share this information with anyone else unless they have spoken to the police, or the person who gave them the information, and the police have agreed that it can be shared. In considering disclosure, all relevant persons will be informed.
The police and other agencies are in regular contact with offenders and the disclosure process will be carefully managed. If anyone feels they are likely to become a victim of vigilantism or have been targeted, they should contact the police. In all cases of disclosure, the risks to the offender and the community impact will be considered, however the protection of children will be the key determining factor.
Making a false declaration in an attempt to procure the disclosure of personal data to which someone does not have a lawful right of access is an offence under the Data Protection Act 1998. This offence is punishable by an unlimited fine at Crown Court. Therefore, anyone providing false information in registering their interest or misusing any information disclosed, for example, by engaging in vigilantism on their own behalf, or on behalf of others, or the harassment of sex offenders, would be subject to police intervention and potential prosecution for any offences identified.