Paedophile alert plans welcomed
Plans to set up a groundbreaking scheme to alert parents if a paedophile has access to their children from August 1 have been welcomed.Norfolk Constabulary will be one of 18 police forces across the country to take part in the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme.
Plans to set up a groundbreaking scheme to alert parents if a paedophile has access to their children from August 1 have been welcomed.
Norfolk Constabulary will be one of 18 police forces across the country to take part in the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme.
It is hoped that a parent who suspects a relative, friend, guardian or carer who has access to their children may be a sex offender will be able to phone or email a dedicated police team to see if their fears are true or unfounded.
Lisa Christensen, director of children's services for the Norfolk County Council, said: "Our priority is to do all we can to ensure the safety and well-being of Norfolk's children and young people.
“The disclosure scheme is an extension of the work that is already done in the county to reduce the risks posed by known sex offenders and we welcome any initiative that further helps to safeguard the county's children."
The man who will set up and help to run the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme is Det Supt Chris Hobley head of Norfolk Constabulary's vulnerable people directory.
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He promised that all allegations will be taken seriously and that anyone who makes a malicious claim about a paedophile could be questioned by his officers.
Det Supt Hobley said: “We will examine each case on its merits and then go through a certain process.
“The scheme is another addition to existing child protection measures to ensure the safety of children in Norfolk.”
Although news of the scheme has been warmly welcomed by Norfolk County Council and parents and grandparents in Yarmouth, one Norwich headteacher has said he has some reservations about the project.
Michael Lawes, head of Catton Grove Primary School, said: “In principal it is a good idea. But people could use it for malicious reasons by casting wild aspersions on individuals they may dislike.
“Ex-partners of parents at the school have been known to make malicious allegations in the past.
“Another knock-on effect would be that it may drive sex offenders underground - as has happened I believe in America with Megan's Law.”
The disclosure scheme has been successfully piloted in Cleveland, Hampshire, Warwickshire and Cambridgeshire and resulted in more than 60 children being protected from potential harm over 12 months.
In that time only a few malicious allegations were made - but no formal action was taken against informants.
Mr Lawes' reservations were not echoed by shoppers in Great Yarmouth's Market Place.
Tina Page, 50, from Halvergate, said: “I would use it without a single doubt in my mind. “There are people out there who want to go around hurting children and they must be stopped.”
Zoe Bircham, 29, from Gorleston, said: “It is a very good idea. It should already be working.”
However Andrew Turner, 50, of Norwich, did issue a note of caution by saying: “I would have to be entirely convinced there was a problem before I contacted the police with any concerns I have.”