Sex offender scheme keeping children safe in Norfolk

Police chiefs in Norfolk have received more than 50 applications from parents to identify child sex offenders living near them in the 12 months since a new scheme was rolled out, it has emerged.

The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme was rolled out across the country in April last year and has helped unmask more than 100 hidden child sex offenders.

Worried parents have made 1,359 information requests to police, expressing concern for their child's safety and as a result, the identities of 111 paedophiles in regular contact with children have been disclosed.

Figures for Norfolk show that a total of 55 applications have been made in the past year with the details of offenders and their convictions being disclosed in five cases.

meanwhile in Suffolk there were 23 applications and eight disclosures and in Cambridgeshire 286 applications - the most in the entire country - with six disclosures.

A spokesman for Norfolk police said of the applications, 36 last year and 15 so far this year, only four were not proceeded with.

He said: 'The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme represents a valuable addition to existing child safeguarding measures and will enhance the efforts of all agencies and the public to keep children safe.'

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The controversial scheme, dubbed Sarah's Law following the abduction and murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne by known paedophile Roy Whiting 11 years ago, was introduced last year following a long-running national newspaper campaign.

It was piloted across four police forces from September 2008 and last autumn was introduced by a further 20 forces, and another 90 paedophiles were found in close contact with kids.

A further 500 children have been safeguarded, as almost half the queries were referred to children's social services for precautionary measures.

Now all 43 police forces across England and Wales take part in the scheme.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: 'It is clear the disclosure scheme is doing exactly what it is designed to do-protect children from potential abuse.

'Rolling it out across all police forces has empowered more parents and carers to take active steps to safeguard children.'

Sara Payne, who spearheaded the campaign following the murder of her daughter, said: 'Seeing these figures makes it all worthwhile.

'Knowing Sarah's Law has been able to help so many families protect their children is a great feeling and more than justifies the government's decision to roll it out nationwide.

'This is just the start and I'd like to think hundreds more families will benefit. I'm proud of what we've achieved.'

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