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Lancashire parents top paedophile checks
11:00pm Monday 23rd December 2013 in News
MORE parents in Lancashire have sought reassurance over suspected paedophiles than anywhere else in the country, according to new Home Office figures.
Ever since Sarah’s Law was adopted, giving the right for anxious parents to apply to police over potential sex abusers working with children, 196 referrals have been made to Lancashire police.
Sixty were made in 2011-12, the scheme’s first year, 70 for the following 12 months and there have been 66 to date for 2013-14.
Campaigners have expressed concerns, given a drop nationally in the number of applications being made, that not enough publicity is being given to the existence of the initiative.
And only around one in seven of those applications made leads to a disclosure being made regarding past convictions.
Donald Findlater, director of research and development at the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, a sex abuse charity, said: “Given the apparent drop in applications since the start of the scheme, albeit small, we have some concern that people may not know the scheme is available to them.
“We would like to see continued public awareness and publicity, whether by local forces or nationally by the Home Office, so that people know that this means of checking someone out exists.”
Mr Findlater also expressed concern that in six out of seven cases, no dislcosure is being made.
He added: “The police know of only a proportion of offenders – many have not been caught and are not on any police database.
“For members of the public to make an application to police, they must have had some concerns in the first place.”
The scheme was brought in following the death of Sarah Payne at the hands of convicted paedophile Roy Whiting in July 2000, and campaigning by her mother, Sara.
Under the Home Office scheme, parents can ask police about anyone with access to their children and officers will reveal details confidentially if they think it is in the child’s interests.
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “When Sarah’s Law was rolled out in Lancashire, it was something I very much welcomed.
“I am encouraged by these figures, which show that people are aware of the legislation, using the provisions to their full potential and helping to protect children and young people.”
Critics have voiced fears that the disclosure scheme may be shifting the responsibility for child protection from the state to individual parents.
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