The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme
Threats to a child’s safety are more likely to originate from a family member or family friend than a complete stranger. The vast majority of child sex offenders are related to or known to their victim.
The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, sometimes known as Sarah’s Law, has been developed to improve access to information that may help protect children from the risk of abuse. The scheme allows parents, carers, guardians or interested third parties to ask the police to tell them about a person's record of child sex offences if they are concerned about that person's access to a child.
In addition, the police may also disclose information about a person who poses a risk of harm to children due to a history of serious violence or where they have been suspected of sex offences.
What information will be disclosed?
The police will only disclose information if we believe there is a need to protect a child, and that it is necessary and proportionate to do so. Information will only be disclosed to the person best-placed to protect the child (normally a parent) and anyone receiving this information must keep it confidential and use it only to protect the child concerned.
We can only consider information that is held by a police force or other agency, and in cases where we have no information to disclose, it does not necessarily mean there is no risk to the child.
How Can I Request Information?
Requests for disclosure can be made directly by phone on 101 or by calling at a Surrey Police Station. You will be asked to provide your details, the children’s names and addresses and as much detail you have about the person you are concerned about.
Checks will be made in the first 24 hours to identify any immediate or critical risk. Your enquiry will then be passed to specialist members of staff who will contact you to arrange a meeting within 10 days. At this meeting you will be provided with an information pack about the scheme. We will then conduct research into the person you are enquiring about and consider what, if any, information we should disclose. We will either contact you to say we have no concerns about the person, or meet with you again to disclose some information about their background. Any disclosure is strictly confidential.
The Scheme is not a UK version of 'Megan's Law', the scheme which operates in the USA and makes all information about sex offenders publicly available. Anyone who breaches the confidence of the UK scheme may have action taken against them by the police.
More information can be found on the Criminal Records Bureau section of the Home Office website.