LATEST government statistics show there are more than 62,000 people on the Sex Offenders' Register living in the UK.

Dangerous criminals within our communities can be monitored through Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements used by the police and other government officials.

The most recent data from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) showed there were 62,435 registered sex offenders in Britain at the end of March 2020. 

This number has continued to rise year-on-year, nearly doubling in the last decade. There were 34,939 offenders in 2009/10. 

As of March this year for every 100,000 people there are 119 registered sex offenders being monitored. 

Sex offenders sentenced to at least 30 months in prison remain on the register indefinitely – although some can apply to be removed after 15 years, following a change to the law in 2012.

Unsurprisingly the staggering number of predators in our communities can be worrying to many parents and guardians. 

If you are concerned about the safety of a child you could be entitled to find out if there are any registered sex offenders living near you. 

What is Sarah's law? 

Runcorn and Widnes World: Michael and Sara Payne, the parents of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne campaigned to bring the law into force in 2011 (PA)Michael and Sara Payne, the parents of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne campaigned to bring the law into force in 2011 (PA)

Sarah’s Law, officially known as the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, was introduced following the abduction and murder of Sarah Payne, eight, by paedophile Roy Whiting, in 2000.

The scheme allows people in England and Wales to ask police if someone with access to a child has been convicted or suspected of child abuse.

Officers will look into the background of individuals and reveal details confidentially, usually to the parents of guardians, if they think it is in the child's interests.

Applications under Sarah’s Law can be made by anyone, but the police will only inform the person who is able to protect the child.

So, for example, a grandparent may enquire about their daughter’s new partner, but the police would then inform the mother, not the grandparent, if the partner was found to have a history of sexual offences.

Who gets put on the Sex Offenders' Register?

Runcorn and Widnes World: Who gets put on the sex offenders register?Who gets put on the sex offenders register?

Anyone cautioned or convicted of a sexual offence will be put on the Sex Offenders' Register, this includes anyone who commits a sexual offence on the internet. 

What constitutes "sex offender" doesn’t necessarily mean "paedophile".

There are a range of crimes that can be considered as sexual offences, including non-consensual crimes such as rape or sexual assault, crimes against children including child sexual abuse or grooming, and crimes that exploit others for a sexual purpose.

Individuals are put on the Sex Offenders' Register for differing lengths of time, depending on the type of offence:

•             A jail term of 30 months to life = remain on the register indefinitely

•             A jail term of 6 to 30 months = registration for 10 years

•             A sentence of less than 6 months = on the register for seven years

•             A community order sentence = on the register for five years

•             A caution issued = on the register for two years

With the exception of prison sentences of 30 months or more, minors (offenders under the age of 18) will have their registration period halved.

How do I access the information?

Runcorn and Widnes World: Sarah's Law was introduced in 2011Sarah's Law was introduced in 2011

Important: If you feel a child is in immediate danger, you should call 999 straight away.

In all other circumstances that are not an emergency, you can request information relating to a child that you are in a position to protect or safeguard by calling 101 or by visiting your local police station.

Alternatively you can go to a police station and ask them for a ‘Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme Form’ (Sarah’s Law), or Form 284.

If police checks show the individual has a record for child sexual offences, or other offences that might put the child at risk, the police will consider sharing this information.

Disclosure is not always guaranteed and the police will only consider telling the person best placed to protect the child - usually a parent, carer or guardian - if the person being checked has a record of child sexual offences or other offences that indicate they may pose a risk to a child.

The police will disclose information only if it is lawful, necessary and proportionate to do so in the interests of protecting the child, or children, from harm.

Even if they do release the information, parents and carers must keep the information confidential and only use it to keep their child safe.

Legal action may be taken if confidentiality is breached.

For more advice and information on protecting children from abuse you can visit the Parents Protect website.