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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 June 2007, 18:52 GMT 19:52 UK
Parents to see sex crime records
Sarah Payne
The murder of Sarah Payne in 2000 prompted calls for new laws
Parents will get the right to ask for details about people who are in regular contact with their children, following a review of information on paedophiles.

However, the Home Office proposals stop short of a "Sarah's Law", which would make information more widely available.

The review of the way details about convicted sex offenders are handled is set to be unveiled on Wednesday.

Sara Payne, whose daughter Sarah was murdered by a paedophile in 2000, said the move was a "massive step forward".

She said: "If you have a child or look after a child you have a place you can go and have some access (to details about paedophiles).

"You don't have full access but you have some access."

'Vigilante reprisals'

Children's charity the NSPCC welcomed the proposals, saying wider access could force convicted paedophiles into hiding and put children at greater risk.

Public protection and the safety of our children is paramount
Home Office spokesman

NSPCC chief executive Dame Mary Marsh said: "The government is rightly tackling public concern at how children are currently protected from sex offenders.

"The government could give stronger, more consistent guidance on how to share information on local child sex offenders."

She said agencies should consider how best to disclose details about specific offenders on a case-by-case basis.

She added: "This should help a concerned parent or other individual take appropriate protective action.

"But allowing anyone access to information about sex offenders is dangerous. It raises the spectre of offenders going into hiding because they fear vigilante reprisals and that does not help protect children."

Names and addresses

The right to ask for information on an individual is expected to extend to parents, guardians and carers.

A campaign for a 'Sarah's Law' was launched after Sarah Payne was murdered by Roy Whiting.

Megan's Law was named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka who was killed by convicted sex offender Jesse Timmendequas in New Jersey in 1994.

The American law gives people access to names and addresses of known paedophiles.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Public protection and the safety of our children is paramount.

"The changes we are proposing will further strengthen the safeguards we have to make sure that child sex offenders can't harm our children.

"For the first time there will be circumstances where members of the public will have the right to request details of possible sex offenders who may have contact with their children.

"The plans have been worked up in consultation with many children's charities and organisations and strike the right balance to maximise child safety."


SEE ALSO
Doubts over British Megan's Law
23 Jul 06 |  UK Politics
The story of Megan's Law
18 Jun 06 |  UK

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