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Sarah's Law sex checks taken up in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 12:48 31 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:58 16 September 2010

CONCERNED parents have already begun making use of new rules which allow them to find out if a sex offender is living in their community, Norfolk police have confirmed.

CONCERNED parents have already begun making use of new rules which allow them to find out if a sex offender is living in their community, Norfolk police have confirmed.

It is a month since new rules - which followed a campaign for Sarah's Law - were introduced in Norfolk and they have so far been used seven times. The rules give anyone concerned about a child's safety the right to contact the police and ask if an individual is on the sex offenders' register.

Although police would not comment on the circumstances of specific cases, they said each call had provided the opportunity to offer reassurances to the public.

There are 826 registered sex offenders in Norfolk, with 633 currently living in communities.

Det Supt Katie Elliott said: “The people who have contacted us have had concerns about individuals who come into contact with their children in all sorts of circumstances.

“In some cases it is simply a matter of offering reassurances and equipping them with the information needed to keep their children safe.

“There are a number of registered sex offenders living in our communities and we have a responsibility to monitor them and ensure they comply with sex offenders' orders.

“This represents a valuable addition to existing child safeguarding measures and will enhance the efforts of all agencies and the public to keep children safe,”

Det Supt Elliott said she had been pleased with the public response so far and hopes that the number of inquiries will increase as more people become aware of the scheme.

“I hope that it continues at this level, if not increases,” she said. “It is a valuable tool which allows us to know what concerns exist in the community and let the public know we are working to protect children.”

The initiative, overseen by a team of 10 officers, enables people to inquire whether an individual who has access to children, such as a neighbour or ex-partner's new boyfriend or girlfriend, has a previous conviction for child sex offences.

Police then have the power to disclose that information to only the child's parent or guardian if that child is deemed to be at risk.

The scheme does not go as far as the campaign for 'Sarah's Law' which called for parents to have the right to know whether a child sex offender is living near them.

The campaign by Sara Payne came after her eight-year-old daughter Sarah was abducted and killed by paedophile Roy Whiting in Sussex in 2000.

People can contact the Child Sex Offender Disclosure scheme in Norfolk on 0845 4564567 and in Suffolk on 01473 613500, or at a police public inquiry office.


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