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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 April 2007, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
Review says no to UK Megan's Law
Sarah Payne
The murder of Sarah Payne in 2000 prompted calls for new laws
A Home Office review of the way child sex offenders are handled in the community has decided against a Megan's Law for the UK, the BBC has learned.

Named after Megan Kanka, seven, who was killed by a convicted sex offender, the US law gives parents access to names and addresses of known paedophiles.

Instead, the Home Office may allow parents to request information about people left unsupervised with children.

But it does not seem to want details of offenders to be made widely available.

A report of the government's year-long child sex offender review, headed by Home Office minister Gerry Sutcliffe, is expected to be published next month at the earliest.

Single parents

The review has effectively decided that a Megan's Law is not appropriate for the UK.

A campaign to launch a 'Sarah's Law' - a UK version of the legislation - was launched after Sarah Payne was murdered by paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000.

At the moment, employers can request a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check if a potential employee is going to work with children, while private citizens cannot.

But the review is looking at the case for widening disclosure of details held on the CRB computer.

For example, it is known that some paedophiles target single parents - working their way into the relationship in order to gain access to children.

Lone parents may, in the future, be allowed to request a CRB check.

Pilot schemes

Last year, Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappa) began publishing details of how many sex offenders - not specifically child sex offenders - live in a borough.

Earlier, it was reported that parents would be given the right to information about paedophiles in their neighbourhoods, prompting heavy criticism from children's charities and probation watchdogs.

They warned of the dangers posed by vigilantes and said it would drive child sex offenders underground.

But it later emerged that any possible changes would not be as far-reaching as first thought.

We shall continue to be anxious about the potential for any sort of UK Megan's Law to put children in great peril
Barnardo's spokesman

Dan Norris, MP for Wansdyke in North East Somerset, claimed the first of three pilot schemes would run in his constituency.

But the Home Office said it was too soon to discuss any pilot schemes.

It added: "Under the existing public protection legislation, a limited form of disclosure already exists, and the review is looking at how best to focus the impact of any extension to this important principle."

A spokesman for the children's charity Barnardo's said: "The indications from Home Office sources that people in the community will not be able to ask for details of convicted paedophiles is encouraging."

But it said it was waiting for a flat denial of earlier reports that members of the public would be able to ask officials to run checks on local people suspected of being paedophiles.

"Until we have it, we shall continue to be anxious about the potential for any sort of UK Megan's Law to put children in great peril," he said.

How one US community deals with a sex offender neighbour

New trials for law on paedophiles
09 Apr 07 |  Somerset
Doubts over British Megan's Law
23 Jul 06 |  UK Politics
US 'worst' for online child abuse
20 Jul 06 |  Technology
The story of Megan's Law
18 Jun 06 |  UK

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