In general, the decision to disclose will be made on a case-by-case basis, either by the police (from the Public Protection Unit) or by your probation officer if you are on licence. If you are under Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), any other agencies involved in the assessment of your risk may also be involved in any decision to disclose.
Any decision to disclose will be based on a proper risk assessment, which should take into account the potential consequences of disclosure to you and your family. The reason for providing information about you to others must be based on your risk of sexual harm to the public or to particular individuals. For example, if you have a conviction for adult rape and you live in shared accommodation, the police may inform your housemates of your conviction if they feel that you present a risk.
Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme (Sarah’s Law)
The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme was rolled out across England and Wales in 2011. This allows anyone concerned about a child to formally ask the police if someone with access to a child has a record for child sexual offences. Criminal record checks are carried out on the applicant. Following a full risk assessment, the police will reveal details, in person, to the person most able to protect the child (usually parents, carers or guardians) if they think it is in the child’s interests. The person who is told is not allowed to tell anybody else.
Scotland runs a similar nationwide scheme called ‘Keeping children safe’ which allows parents, carers and guardians of children under 18-years-old to ask the police if someone who has contact with their child has a record for sexual offences against children, or other offences that could put that child at risk.
Currently, there is no formal scheme for this in Northern Ireland. However, information on sex offenders can be shared in a controlled way by the police, where necessary for the purposes of child protection or risk management.
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (Clare’s Law)
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme was implemented across England and Wales in March 2014. This gives members of the public a ‘right to ask’ the police where they have a concern that their partner may pose a risk to them, or where they are concerned that the partner of a member of their family or a friend may pose a risk to that individual.
If an application is made under the scheme, the police and partner agencies will carry out checks and if they show that the partner has a record of abusive offences, or there is other information to indicate that there may be a risk from the partner, the police will consider sharing this information.
This may affect you if you have been convicted of a sex offence, as offences of rape, sexual assault and sexual activity are included in the Home Office’s guidance of offences that may be disclosed to partners under this scheme.
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