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Sarah's Law - Right to Ask

The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme provides parents, guardians and carers with information to help them safeguard their children’s safety and welfare.

The scheme, also known as Sarah's Law, allows members of the public to ask whether an individual who has direct unsupervised 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 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 unsupervised 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 when appropriate. 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 application.

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 extention number 180340. Staff are available to take calls between 8am to 8pm every day. Alternatively, you can attend your local police station. 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 concern.

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.

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 application.

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 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.

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