Keeping Children Safe Disclosure Scheme
What is it?
The ‘Keeping Children Safe Disclosure Scheme’ is a formal way for Cambridgeshire residents to enquire whether an individual who has un-supervised access or potential un-supervised access to a child has a record of child sex offending and/or poses a significant risk of harm to a child.
Who can apply?
Parents, carers, guardians, extended family, friends, neighbours or anyone who looks out for the welfare of a child.
Anyone can register a child protection interest where they have concerns about a named individual who cares for or has access to a named child(ren).
For example, it could be a new partner who is living or staying in the same house as the child(ren).
When is a disclosure made?
Where the individual has previous convictions for child sex offences and is considered a risk to the children concerned, relevant information may be given to the person best placed to protect the child. This is usually a parent, carer or guardian, who needs to know the information in order to keep the child safe.
Any member of the public can apply for information about an individual if they are concerned, but disclosure will only be given to the person best placed to protect the child.
Under the scheme, any disclosure remains a decision for the police in consultation with relevant partner agencies. Disclosure cannot be guaranteed in all cases. All disclosures must be lawful, proportionate and necessary to protect a child from the risk of significant harm. The safeguarding of children will be paramount throughout.
At present the scheme currently operates in four force areas in England:
Cambridgeshire Constabulary's service is only available to residents living in the county.
How can I make an application?
- Telephone Cambridgeshire Constabulary on 101. A trained member of staff from our Police Service Centre will take your details in order to register your application under the Keeping Children Safe Scheme.
- Send an e-mail to Cambridgeshire police with your name and safe contact details by going to the 'contact us' section.
For further, confidential advice and information about recognising the signs of child sexual abuse, contact The Lucy Faithfull Foundation 'Stop It Now Campaign' free phone helpline on 0808 1000 900.
Will the subject know they are being checked out, and who made the application about them?
In the event of a disclosure, the police will always strive to maintain the confidentiality of the applicant, and consult the applicant's views prior to contacting the subject person enquired about.
If a disclosure does take place the subject person may be informed that the parent/carer/guardian of the child(ren) is to receive information about their relevant criminal history. All disclosures are carefully planned by police and partner agencies, to minimise risk of harm to all concerned.
If disclosure takes place, can applicants warn family and friends about the subject's criminal history?
Information about a disclosure must be treated as confidential. Anyone who receives a disclosure is required to sign an undertaking prior to receiving the information, stating they will not share the information disclosed to any other person. Information is disclosed for the sole purpose of safeguarding the children named in the application.
Is the pilot Sarah’s law or Megan’s law?
No. Megan's Law operates in the United States and involves the automatic disclosure of sex offender details to the general public.
No. Sarah's Law is a campaign being run by a national newspaper calling for a change in the law to give parents the right to know if a child sexual offender is living in their immediate area.
The Keeping Children Safe Disclosure Scheme is a carefully managed disclosure to named individuals who have direct responsibility for a child's safety, who requests information about a specific individual. Legislation says that there is a presumption to disclose, but disclosure is not automatic.
What will be done to stop offenders becoming victims of vigilantism?
The police and other agencies are in regular contact with offenders and the disclosure process will be carefully managed. If anyone feels they are likely to become a victim of vigilantism or have been targeted, they should contact the police. In all cases of disclosure the risks to the offender and the community impact will be considered, however, the protection of children will be the key determining factor.
What happens if someone tries to make a false application?
Making a false declaration in an attempt to procure the disclosure of personal data to which someone does not have a lawful right of access is an offence under the Data Protection Act 1998. This offence is more commonly referred to as 'blagging' and is punishable by an unlimited fine at crown court. Therefore, anyone providing false information in registering their interest or misusing any information disclosed, for example by engaging in vigilantism or the harassment of sex offenders, would be subject to police intervention and potential prosecution.
‘In a Nutshell’
“This scheme does not replace existing arrangements for the Vetting and Safeguarding Children Procedures. If you are enquiring about someone you wish to employ or already employ, then it is more appropriate you should undertake a full CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) application through the proper channels.
Refer to www.crb.gov.uk or tel. 0870 90 90 811 for further information
Under this scheme, a disclosure will only be made to the relevant parent; carer or guardian of the child (ren) registered; otherwise your concerns will be dealt with under normal safeguarding children procedures.
Relevant checks will be carried out by the Police and with appropriate partner agencies. This can take time but will be completed as soon as possible. After your initial call to us you will be visited by an allocated officer over the following few days, this is to carry out a face to face interview to verify your identification and obtain further details. This is to assist us in moving your application forward as efficiently as possible. You will be asked to provide proof identification, photographic ID would be preferable if you have it. We will endeavour to complete all necessary enquiries and relevant disclosures within 45 days. The time scales are largely dependant on each individual case and could vary.
Please be assured that risks to the children concerned will be reviewed and assessed throughout the application process. Positive action will be taken in the event that we receive information to suggest that a child is at immediate risk of significant harm.
I have to advise you that if you make a wilful or malicious application to this scheme and provide false information to the police in order to obtain information you are not lawfully entitled to, then you may risk prosecution in respect of this.”