Page last updated at 00:02 GMT, Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Campaigner Sara Payne becomes MBE

Sara Payne
Sara Payne, 39, will be made a MBE for services to child safety
Child protection campaigner Sara Payne has been made a MBE in the New Year Honours List for her tireless work to keep children safe from paedophiles.

The 39-year-old has dedicated her life to fighting for better safeguards against sex offenders ever since the murder of her daughter Sarah in 2000.

The eight-year-old was kidnapped from a field beside her grandparents' home in Kingston Gorse, West Sussex by repeat offender Roy Whiting.

Despite her grief, Mrs Payne launched her campaign moments after he was jailed for life in December 2001. He was later told he must serve a minimum of 50 years.

Standing ovation

She called on the then Home Secretary David Blunkett to change the law surrounding information about paedophiles to allow restricted public access to the sex offenders register.

She and her husband Michael also campaigned for the so-called 'Sarah's Law' to give parents and carers the right to know if sex offenders lived locally.

It was partly inspired by Megan's Law in the United States, following the rape and murder of Megan Kanka, seven, in 1994.

At first Mrs Payne's campaign faced huge opposition from child care agencies and some police forces who feared it would trigger vigilante attacks.

This really is a giant step forward... Sarah's memory deserves nothing less
Sara Payne

But her relentless campaigning of a succession of Prime Ministers and Home Secretaries finally forced a series of breakthroughs.

In 2003 she received a standing ovation from more than 1,000 police officers at the Police Federation's annual conference in Blackpool as she urged support for Sarah's Law.

And in September this year four police forces, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Cleveland and Warwickshire, finally launched pilot schemes giving greater access to information.

If successful the scheme, backed by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, could be rolled out across the country.

Mrs Payne said at the time: "This really is a giant step forward. Sarah would be so proud of these important changes that have been made in her name. Her memory deserves nothing less."

So far a total of 14 pieces of legislation tightening the laws on child sex offenders have been introduced as a direct result of her work.

But she is still campaigning to see 'Sarah's Law' introduced in full.

On a personal level, Sarah's death has placed a heavy burden on the family.

Sara and Michael, of Hersham in Surrey, announced their split in September 2003 after 18 years together.

They blamed the aftermath of coping with the trauma of the murder.

Three months later Mrs Payne gave birth to their daughter Ellie, now five, a sister to their other children Lee, 21, Luke, 20 and 14-year-old Charlotte.

Mrs Payne has also written a book about her ordeal, called A Mother's Story, and is a patron of the Victims of Crime Trust.

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