NSPCC fears Sarah’s Law will drive paedophiles underground

The NSPCC is concerned that an extension of the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, known as Sarah’s Law, will drive paedophiles underground and lead to an increase in vigilante attacks.

The warning comes as Home Secretary Theresa May announces the start of a nationwide roll-out of the scheme, which was first piloted in four areas.

Eight additional areas will join this week and from this autumn a further 12 will take part in the scheme, which allows parents to check whether people with regular access to their family are a risk to children.

Diana Sutton, NSPCC head of public affairs and campaigns, said: “The government needs to tread cautiously in rolling out the scheme to more police forces. The Home Office must continue to monitor the impact of the roll-out on local child protection arrangements and communities.

“We remain concerned about the risk of vigilante action and sex offenders going underground. All new local schemes need close management and proper resourcing to avoid this.”

The Home Office says that 60 children have already been protected from abuse during the pilot.
May said: “Not only will it help parents, carers or guardians ensure that their children are safe, but it also assists the police in managing known sex offenders living in the community more effectively.”
Chief Constable Paul West, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead on managing sexual and violent offenders, also defended the extension to the pilot.

He said: “In addition to enabling parents, carers or guardians to take active steps to protect their children, some of the cases that have arisen during the pilots have included extended family members and neighbours who have raised concerns.

“Their interventions have undoubtedly resulted in children being protected from potential abuse.”