How to find out if there are sex offenders living in your area and nearby

Twenty years ago an eight-year-old schoolgirl disappeared from a field near her grandparents’ home.

What ensued was every parent's worst nightmare.

The girl, Sarah Payne, was found brutally murdered having been snatched by a known pedophile.

Her death sparked outrage and a new law was introduced to allow parents to protect their youngsters.

If you are concerned about a potential sex offender in your area and are worried about your child's safety, this is what you can do.

Does a sex offender live near me?

If you are worried about who lives nearby you can check the Sex Offenders Register through your nearest police station.

You must request a Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme Form, or Form 284.

The scheme will allow you to ask police if someone who may be in contact with a child, has a record of these offences and could potentially be at risk of causing harm.

The child sex offender disclosure scheme in England and Wales – “Sarah’s Law” – allows anyone to ask police if someone with access to a child has a record for child sexual offences.

Police will then confidentially reveal the details to you – if it is in the child's interests.

The Sex Offenders Register

The Sex Offenders Register documents anybody who has committed a sexual offence.

The database includes people jailed for more than 12 months for violent offences and un-convicted people who are believed to be at risk of offending.

Offenders can be placed on the register for any length of time, depending on what crimes they have committed:

  • 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.

A legal challenge in 2010 means offenders can apply for a review of lifetime notification requirements, after at least 15 years for adults and eight years for juveniles.

Additionally, many offenders of these related crimes, are required to register for long periods of time, with some registering for life.

This has an effect on the total number of offenders required to register at any one time.

Who was Sarah Payne?

In July 2000 Sarah Payne was abducted by Roy Whiting, who was a known child sex abuser.

She was found dumped in a field 15 miles away from where she went missing. It took search teams more than two weeks to discover her body.

Following Sarah’s brutal death, a law was introduced to give parents and carers the tools to access child sex-offenders who may be living close by.

If it's in a child’s interest, they can obtain the information under Sarah’s Law.

Working with the News of the World newspaper, Sarah’s mum, Sara, campaigned to allow members of the public to access the Sex Offenders’ Register through their local police.

Parents concerned about their child’s welfare can keep track of offenders who live nearby.

The law, Sarah’s parents said, would have saved their daughter’s life if it had been introduced earlier.

The man who killed Sarah was jailed for life for his crimes.

He will not be eligible for parole until 2041, when he will be 82-years-old.

He was convicted of the abduction and murder of Sarah on December 21, 2001 and sentenced to life imprisonment .

Following his sentencing it came out that he was a known sex offender and had previously been sentenced to four years, for abducting and sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl.

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