Parents given names of offenders

Sarah Payne, whose tragedy led to the creation of 'Sarah's law'.
Sarah Payne, whose tragedy led to the creation of 'Sarah's law'.

– turn to page 4

SUSPICIOUS parents have uncovered four convicted sex offenders in Scarborough, using new powers gained under ‘Sarah’s Law’.

The law, officially called the Child Sex Offender Scheme, was introduced by North Yorkshire Police in August 2010.

Following a Freedom of Information request, the Evening News understands that 22 requests have been made under the act to police by worried Scarborough parents.

They have contacted them to see if adults in regular contact with their children have been convicted of sex offences.

Pauline Carruthers, founder of sexual abuse charity Hope, said that the figures mean that the law is working. She said: “Nobody would have found out about these people if it wasn’t for the law. How many children have been saved because these people have been caught out?”

The law was created in memory of tragic eight-year-old Sarah Payne, who was murdered by convicted paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000. Its introduction to North Yorkshire in 2010 followed an Evening News campaign in which over 100 parents, some whose children had been targeted by paedophiles, signed a petition to have the law introduced.

Pauline added that in regions where the law had been in place for an extended period, there had been a decline in the number of offences.

However, she stopped short of saying that the law was a deterrent to paedophiles, adding: “They are very good at grooming, and a lot of the people who apply under the law are single mothers, concerned about their new boyfriend or partner.”

However, she added that predators are “clever” when it comes to grooming youngsters, and can spend several years deceiving unassuming parents to gain access to their children.

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said that “everyone has a part to play” in protecting children.

They added: “Protecting children from harm is a major priority for the police service and our partner agencies.

“The Child Sex Offenders Disclosure scheme has given us extra capability to help keep children safe.

“The scheme also empowers parents, guardians and carers to have more control in protecting the children they care for.

“It is essential that they have the ability to raise their own concerns and have some informed control over who they allow close to their children.”

When the law was introduced to the area in 2010, there were 350 registered sex offenders in North Yorkshire, with 113 in the Scarborough region alone.

Although no current figures were immediately available to the Evening News, Pauline said that she would like to see an increase in the number of requests made to Scarborough Police.

“22 requests is nothing when you think about it in the grand scheme of things, especially when you think how many people with kids have started a relationship in the last year alone.

“Everybody has a duty to protect children.”

“The law isn’t about stranger danger, it’s about protecting children from people they know.”

“I mean if there’s nothing there, then these people have nothing to worry about.”

And the police reiterated her message, with a spokesperson adding: “The majority of offences against children are carried out by someone they know.

“If anyone knows or suspects that a child is being abused, they must inform the police immediately.”

Anybody who thinks a child is in danger, contact officers on 999. To make a request under the act, contact Scarborough Police on 101.