New child protection scheme launched in Hertfordshire

A NEW scheme, which aims to give the public greater involvement in child protection, has been launched by Hertfordshire Constabulary today (Friday).

The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme is a national initiative developed to inform concerned people about safeguarding children in their neighbourhood.

Under the scheme, members of the public can report concerns or suspicions about an individual to Hertfordshire Constabulary, either by visiting a police station or calling the police non emergency number.

The report is then given to officers in the County Community Safety Unit, who have 24 hours to make initial checks to see if there is an immediate risk to a child.

If an issue emerges, the police have 45 days in which to make a response. The “applicant” who made the initial report is also visited by an officer, in order to make identity checks and to inform them of the outcome of the investigation.

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The scheme is being rolled out to forces across the country, as the result of a successful trail run in 2009.

The idea cam about following a report published in the wake of the 2002 Soham murders, when two 10-year-old girls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, were killed in Cambridgeshire by school caretaker Ian Huntley.

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At a press conference held this morning at Hertfordshire Constabulary’s headquarters in WGC, detective chief inspector Julie Wheatley and detective inspector Marcus Bromley, of the paedophile investigation and public protection unit, were quick to underline the new scheme is not a Sarah’s Law – style initiative to “out” child sex offenders to the general public.

Rather, it is a scheme designed to give reassurance to anyone who is directly responsible for a child, DCI Wheatley said.

“We will be grateful for any contact we have from the public in relation to the scheme but will only give final advice about an individual to those directly responsible for the safety of a particular child,” she said.

“If that is not the applicant then understandably they won’t be briefed about the details if it is not relevant to them.”

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