How to find out if a paedophile or rapist lives on your street using Sarah’s Law

TEN years ago a law was introduced which allows people living in England or Wales to find out if a paedophile or rapist lives on their street.

Its namesake is eight-year-old Sarah Payne, who was abducted and murdered by a convicted paedophile near her grandfather’s home in West Sussex, back in 2000.

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Sarah Payne was abducted and murdered in 2000[/caption]

What happened to Sarah Payne?

Sarah’s Law is a law borne from tragedy. 

Sarah Payne was just eight-years-old when paedophile Roy Whiting snatched her when she was out playing with her siblings in Kingston Gorse.

She was walking back to her grandfather’s home along a country road after playing hide and seek in a cornfield when she disappeared.

After 17 days of searching her body was found in a field near Oulborough, around 15 miles from where she disappeared in Kingston Gorse.

Sarah’s brother Lee — now 30 and a father of one — was 13 when he ran to look for Sarah and saw killer Roy Whiting’s van speeding off.

Whiting lived in a seafront flat in Littlehampton, which was around five miles from the lane from which Sarah disappeared.

He had previously abducted and sexually assaulted an eight-year-old girl, and had served a four-year prison sentence for his crime. 

Police identified him as a suspect early on in their investigation, and almost a year on, in February 2001, Whiting was charged with Sarah’s kidnapping and murder.

PA:Press Association

Whiting had previously abducted and sexually assaulted an eight-year-old girl before Payne’s disappearance[/caption]

He was convicted and sentenced by a jury in December of that year, and was handed a life sentence in prison. 

He would be eligible for parole when he was 82.

Who created Sarah’s law?

Sarah’s mum, Sarah Payne, worked tirelessly following her daughter’s death to advocate for child safety and campaign for the Government to bring in improved protection measures.

Stricken by grief after the disappearance of her daughter, Payne worked to have Sarah’s Law brought into legislation. 

“Sarah’s Law” requires the police to make information about local sex offenders available to the public.

Police will reveal details confidentially to the person most able to protect the child (usually parents, carers or guardians) if they think it is in the child’s interests.

The scheme was piloted in four police areas in 2008 and in August 2010 the Home Office announced that it would be rolled out across all 43 police areas in England and Wales.

PA:Press Association

“Sarah’s Law” requires the police to make information about local sex offenders available to the public[/caption]

The law is formally known as the Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme.

Scotland run a similar nationwide scheme called Keeping children safe which allows parents, carers and guardians of children under 18 years old to ask the police if someone who has contact with their child has a record for sexual offences against children, or other offences that could put that child at risk.

No such scheme is formally available in Northern Ireland. However, information on sex offenders can be, and is, shared in a controlled way by the police where necessary for the purposes of child protection or risk management.

Payne was later awarded an MBE by the Queen for her victim advocacy and child protection work.

She later penned a book, called A Mother’s Story, about her life and her daughter’s death, and co-founded Phoenix Chief Advocates.

Today, the group helps those victimised by paedophile crimes, challenges the institutional anti-victim prejudice, and helps people with PTSD.

PA:Press Association

Sarah’s mum, Sarah Payne, worked tirelessly following her daughter’s death to advocate for child protection[/caption]

Who goes on the Sex Offenders’ Register?

A range of actions and offences can get someone placed on the official Sex Offenders’ Register.

Someone could get placed onto the list for smacking a girl on the bottom when she walked past them on the street.

In other cases, the register can unmask dangerous convicted sex predators.

A Sun probe of police figures in 2018 found at least 167 cases the year prior where people were seen as a potential threat.

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