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England and Wales: Child Sex Offender Registry Information Made Available to Parents

(Oct. 6, 2010) An existing program, known as the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, that allows parents to check whether people in contact with their children have a record of child sexual offenses or other offenses that may put a child at risk, has been recently extended to 24 police forces across England and Wales. The remaining police forces have the opportunity to join the plan before March 2011.

The plan is similar to the U.S.'s 'Megan's Law' and is currently commonly referred to as 'Sarah's Law.' The English version is much more limited than the U.S. version and does not allow public access to the sex offender registry. Providing information on sexual offenders, including their pictures, names, and addresses, to the public was decided against amid concerns of vigilante attacks against registered sex offenders; non-compliance with registration; and the cost of administering and policing the public disclosure system.

Under the current plan, concerned parents may complete an application form in person at their local police station. The parents must provide identification, inform the police as to what their relationship is to the child, and say why they wish a check to be performed on the particular person. If the check does reveal that the person in question does have a history of child sexual offenses, the police are not under an obligation to inform the person who requested the check. However, the police must share the information with the people best placed to protect the child, who are typically the child's parents, caretakers, or guardians. (Tom Pugh, Twenty Forces Introduce Sarah's Law, THE INDEPENDENT (London) (Sept. 28, 2010), http
; Staffordshire and West Midlands Probation Trust, Staffordshire Launches Sarah's Law (Oct. 1, 2010), http
; Home Office, The Child Sex Offender (CSO) Disclosure Scheme (Apr. 8, 2010), http
; Home Office, The Operation and Experience of Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) (2007), http