Sarah's Law

Disclosure of the details of child sex offenders

There is a provision in the law for data about convicted child sex offenders to be disclosed to citizens in certain situations. This provision is known as “Sarah’s Law”, in memory of Sarah Payne, a child killed by a convicted child sex offender. This law gives parents, carers and guardians the ability to formally ask the police to inform them if an individual has a record for particular sexual crimes. The legislation that authorizes “Sarah’s Law” is within amendments to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (the “CJA 2003”).

Disclosure of information on sexual offenders

Section 235(2) of the CJA 2003 imposes an obligation on the authority for each geographical area to establish arrangements to examine and manage risks in that area by particular sexual and violent criminals. In exercising this obligation, section 237A obliges the authority responsible to disclose particular data to the public about sexual offenders of children. This is a section of the legislation that has become known as Sarah’s Law. Section 237A(1) states that the authority responsible should judge whether to disclose data it has about the relevant previous convictions of every child sex offender watched over by it to any particular citizen. The law creates the presumption that the authority responsible should disclose the data if the child sex offender is seen as a threat to a certain child or to children of a certain category, and disclosure is needed to save that child or children from harm.

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