Hundreds of parents have used a special law to formally ask Nottinghamshire Police whether someone who has access to their children is a sex offender.
The disclosure scheme, known as Sarah’s Law, allows worried parents, guardians or carers to find out if a person is a registered child sex offender or a known threat to children.
The rule was brought in after the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne in West Sussex in 2000.
A total of 252 applications have been made by the public to Notts Police from 2019 to 2023, according to a Freedom of Information (FOI).
In 51 of those cases – around one in five – police disclosed relevant information to the applicants.
Following her abduction and murder by a known sex offender, Sarah’s parents campaigned for greater access to the Sex Offenders Register, saying such a law would have saved her. The scheme was adopted by all police forces by 2011.
Officially known as the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, it allows anyone with concerns about a person’s interactions with a child to seek information.
Grandparents, neighbours or friends may make a request, but police will only disclose information to a person responsible for protecting the child.
Nottinghamshire Police’s website advises: “If you’re worried about someone’s behaviour towards a child, or something you’ve seen, heard or been told, you can use Sarah’s Law to find out if that person is a risk.
“You must apply for information about a specific person and a specific child or children they spend time with. You cannot apply for general information about child sex offenders.”
Members of the public can apply online, by calling 101 or at their local police station.
They should provide details about the child, the person they are asking for information on and why they are worried.
A similar scheme called Clare’s Law (the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme) is available for people who fear they may be at risk from their partner.