Right to Ask
The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme has been introduced in
Essex to provide parents, guardians and carers with information to
help them safeguard their children’s safety and welfare.
The scheme, also known
as Right to Ask, allows members of the public to ask whether an
individual who has direct access to a child has convictions for
child sex offences or poses a significant risk of harm to a child.
It is about the protection of children and builds on the
arrangements and close partnership working already in place to
manage registered sex offenders in Essex.
It allows concerned members of the public to enquire about the
history of a person who has direct contact with a child but is not
a copy of the US Megan’s Law whereby details of registered sex
offenders are automatically released to the public.
Where enquiries highlight concern, Essex Police, in consultation
with partner agencies, will disclose information necessary for the
protection of a child.
Who can apply?
Anyone can make an application about a named/identified person
who has some form of contact with a child or children. You don’t
have to be a parent but could be a grandparent, friend, guardian or
anyone looking out for the welfare of a child.
You could, for example, be a neighbour who has concerns about a
new partner staying in the same house as a child or a mother
wanting to ensure that a new person in your children’s lives does
not have a known history of offending that would mean they could
pose a risk of serious harm.
All enquiries are confidential.
When is a disclosure made?
A decision to disclose information will be considered if the
person in question has convictions (including cautions, reprimands
and final warnings) for sexual offences against children, poses a
risk of causing harm to the child concerned and disclosure is
necessary to protect the child.
A decision to disclose information will be made by Essex Police
in consultation with relevant partner agencies where relevant.
Disclosure must be lawful and necessary to protect a child from the
risk of harm.
How is a disclosure made?
A disclosure will only be made to the person who is in a
position to use the information to protect the child/children. That
usually means a parent, guardian or carer. As a result, disclosure
may NOT always be made to the person who made the original
Information will be delivered in person and is confidential. The
information must only be used for the purpose for which it has been
disclosed – to safeguard a child. Breaching confidentiality can
result in legal proceedings.
How do I make an application?
You can make a 'Right to Ask' application by calling
the Essex Police non-emergency number 101 or 01245 491491.
Alternatively, you can attend Basildon, Braintree, Chelmsford,
Clacton, Colchester, Grays, Harlow, Rayleigh, Saffron Walden and
Southend police stations. Please view our Police Stations page for opening hours.
What happens next?
After making contact, checks will be carried out within 24 hours
to make sure the child in question is not in immediate or imminent
risk of harm. Action will be taken immediately if this is a
You will then be asked to take part in a face to face meeting
with a representative from Essex Police. At this meeting you will
be asked to provide some form of identification and give further
information to help with enquiries.
Ask is an opportunity for the public to contact the police where
they have concerns about an individual who has unsupervised access
DCI Paul Johnson
Knowingly providing police with false information to try and get a
disclosure you are not entitled to may result in prosecution for
wasting police time.
A full risk assessment and checks with other agencies will then
be carried out before a decision is made as to whether there are
any concerns. This will take around 10 days from the date of
Where there are concerns, a decision may be made to disclose
information to the person who is best placed to use the information
to protect the child/children concerned.
If a disclosure is made it will always be done so in person by a
representative of Essex Police.
Every effort will be made to complete applications as quickly as
possible but the process can take up to a maximum of 45 days.