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Friday, 05 May 2017

Sex offender disclosure scheme expanded to online applications in Scotland

Written by The Press Association

Moves to improve the accessibility of a scheme which gives concerned parents a chance to find out if a sex offender has access to their children have been announced by police.

Under the existing scheme, parents, guardians or carers who suspect an individual may have inappropriate contact with a child aged under 18, or have previous convictions for sexual offences against children, can apply to the police to have checks carried out.

People seeking to make an application under the Sex Offender Community Disclosure Scheme will now be able to do so online, rather than in person, as was the case previously.

Officers will then assess whether a full application for disclosure should then be carried out. Under the scheme, after background checks and if it is deemed appropriate, information may be disclosed to the child's parent or guardian so they can ban any future contact.

If there is an ongoing or imminent risk, or an indication that a crime has been committed against a child, then immediate protective measures will be taken.

Detective Superintendent Elaine Galbraith said: "Where children are at risk of harm, Police Scotland and other statutory agencies will take measures to protect those children. Our priority will always be to ensure children are protected.

"The Sex Offender Community Disclosure Scheme or Keeping Children Safe is an additional element of that wider child protection picture aimed to empower parents, carers and guardians to take action if they fear that someone who is in contact with their child may be a sex offender.

"Parents and carers will now be able to make an initial application online rather than in person. Police Scotland will then assess whether it is appropriate to proceed to a full application for disclosure.

"Our first priority always will be to ensure that if a child is at risk of harm, action will be taken immediately to ensure that child's safety." The new online application form can be accessed through the Police Scotland website.

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