Child Sex Offender Disclosure Process

The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Process (CSODP) allows Suffolk residents to enquire if an individual who has unsupervised access or potential unsupervised access to a child has a record of child sex offending and/or poses a significant risk of harm to a child.

This scheme does not replace existing arrangements for our vetting and safeguarding children procedures. If you are enquiring about someone you wish to employ or already employ, then you will need to undertake a full Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) application through the proper channels.

 

Who can apply for information about an individual?

Parents, carers, guardians, extended family, friends, neighbours, or anyone who looks out for the welfare of a child.

Anyone can register a child protection interest where they have concerns about a named individual who cares for or has access to a named child(ren).

For example, an individual may have concerns about a new partner who is living or staying in the same house as their grand child(ren).

 

How can someone apply for information about an individual?

If you contact Suffolk Police, a member of staff will take your details in order to register your application under the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Process (CSODP).

Important – if you think a child is in immediate danger, please dial 999, where someone will be able to assist you.

Also, please note, applications cannot be made at your local police station and will only be accepted by telephoning Suffolk Police on 101.

For further confidential advice and information about recognising the signs of child sexual abuse, contact The Lucy Faithful Foundation ‘Stop It Now Campaign.

 

When is a disclosure made about an individual?

Where the individual has previous convictions for child sex offences and is considered a risk to the child(ren) concerned, relevant information may be given to the person best placed to protect the child. This is usually a parent, carer or guardian, who needs the information in order to keep the child safe.

Any member of the public can apply for information about an individual if they are concerned, but disclosure will only be given to the person best placed to protect the child.

Any disclosure remains a decision for the police in consultation with relevant partner agencies. Disclosure cannot be guaranteed in all cases. All disclosures must be lawful, proportionate and necessary to protect a child from the risk of significant harm. The safeguarding of children will be paramount throughout.

For more information please contact CSODP.

 

What are the timescales for carrying out a check on an individual?

Relevant checks will be carried out by the police and with appropriate partner agencies. This can take time but will be completed as soon as possible.

A police officer will visit you within ten days of your initial call. This is to carry out a face-to-face interview to verify your identification and obtain further details to assist us in moving your application forward as efficiently as possible.

You will be asked to provide proof of identification - photographic identification would be preferable if you have it. We will try to complete all necessary enquiries and relevant disclosures within 45 days. The timescales are largely dependant on each individual case and could vary.

Please be assured that risks to the children concerned will be reviewed and assessed throughout the application process. Positive action will be taken in the event that we receive information to suggest that a child is at immediate risk of significant harm.

 

Is CSODP the same as Sarah’s law or Megan’s law?

No. Sarah’s Law is a campaign being run by a national newspaper calling for a change in the law to give parents the right to know if a child sexual offender is living in their immediate area.

Megan’s Law operates in the United States and involves the automatic disclosure of sex offender details to the general public.

The Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Process (CSODP) is a carefully managed disclosure to named individuals who have direct responsibility for a child’s safety, who request information about a specific individual.

 

Will the subject of the application know they are being checked out, and who made the application about them?

In the event of a disclosure, the police will always strive to maintain the confidentiality of the applicant, and consult the applicant’s views prior to contacting the individual they have enquired about.

If a disclosure does take place, the subject person may be informed that the parent, carer or guardian of the child(ren) is to receive information about their relevant criminal history. All disclosures are carefully planned by police and partner agencies to minimise risk of harm to all concerned.

 

If disclosure takes place, can applicants warn family and friends about the subject’s criminal history?

Information about a disclosure must be treated as confidential. Anyone who receives a disclosure is required to sign an undertaking prior to receiving the information, stating they will not share the details with any other person.

Anyone who shares information with other people will be subject to police intervention and potential prosecution under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Information is disclosed for the sole purpose of safeguarding the children named in the application.

 

Is there a disclosure process already in place?

Under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) or under the Safeguarding Children Arrangements, information is disclosed to an individual or group where it is felt necessary or proportionate to protect children from abuse.

MAPPA is the process through which the police, probation and prison services work together with other agencies to manage the risks posed by sex offenders and violent offenders living in the community in order to protect the public.

The Safeguarding Children Arrangement involves a number of agencies working together to promote children’s welfare and help protect children from abuse. Disclosure may also take place under the Safeguarding Children Arrangements, where children services may disclose information held by the authorities in a managed way.

 

What will be done to stop offenders becoming victims of vigilantism?

The police and other agencies are in regular contact with offenders and the disclosure process will be carefully managed. If anyone feels they are likely to become a victim of vigilantism or have been targeted, they should contact the police.

In all cases of disclosure, the risks to the offender and the community impact will be considered. However, the protection of children will be the key determining factor.

 

What happens if someone tries to make a false application?

Making a false application in an attempt to procure the disclosure of personal data to which someone does not have a lawful right of access to is an offence under the Data Protection Act 1998. This offence is more commonly referred to as ‘blagging’ and is punishable by an unlimited fine at crown court.

Therefore, anyone providing false information in registering their interest or misusing any information disclosed, e.g. by engaging in vigilantism or the harassment of sex offenders, would be subject to police intervention and potential prosecution.

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