In 2011, following pilot schemes which ran across four police areas, Sarah’s Law (an eponym of the Child Sex Offenders Police Disclosure Scheme in England and Wales was introduced). Also encompassed in Sarah’s Law is the Keep Children Safe Scheme in Scotland. These laws allow concerned parents or carers of children to formally request information from the police to ascertain if an individual has previous convictions for child sexual abuse. Between 2011-2014 5357 request were made for disclosures. Of that figure only 887 received information (NSPCC 2015). The police have authority to withhold information if they believe there is the possibility of vigilantism against the individual concerned. It is a criminal offence to divulge information received following a disclosure for trepidation of vigilante repercussions. With this in mind, do the police feel it is more important to protect paedophiles than children?
The law is named after eight year old Sarah Payne who disappeared on the 1st July 2000 from West Sussex. 17 days later her naked body was found. Subsequently Roy Whiting, a convicted paedophile was arrested and charged with her murder. Whiting had previously been sentenced to four year imprisonment for abducting and sexually assaulting an eight year old girl. He was released early after less than three years despite refusing to undergo a sex offender’s rehabilitation course. Information provided by the psychiatrist who assessed Whiting concluded there was probability he would re-offend following release (Daily Telegraph 2001). After Whiting’s conviction in 2011 the victim’s mother, Sarah, campaigned in conjunction with the News of the World for Sa...
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...ious in disclosing past convictions for fear of attacks on paedophiles, especially in light of Kidscapes statistics that perpetrators are more likely to know their victims. Reports of child sexual abuse are increasing. The number of cases of child sexual abuse far exceeds isolated vigilante attacks on paedophiles. Sarah’s Law is restricted in denying other relevant adults to the child to apply for disclosure and is not being fully employed with only a rate of one to six applications being granted. This is to the detriment to children while favouring the privacy rights of abusers. Information on missing paedophiles is being withheld from the public, again putting children at risk for fear of repercussions to perpetrators. It is therefore evident that in the UK the safety of children is secondary to the protection and anonymity of previously convicted paedophiles.
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