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Now you can check on anyone who might be a danger to kids as NI's Sarah’s Law extended

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Schoolgirl Sarah Payne

Schoolgirl Sarah Payne

Schoolgirl Sarah Payne was murdered by sexual predator Roy Whiting

Schoolgirl Sarah Payne was murdered by sexual predator Roy Whiting

Schoolgirl Sarah Payne

Any member of the public with concerns about someone who may pose a risk to children can now share their concerns online under the expansion of a disclosure scheme which is Northern Ireland version of Sarah's Law.

The PSNI has launched an online application facility as part of the Child Protection Disclosure Scheme, which was introduced in March 2016.

It allows anyone with concerns about an individual to find out if they have a history of violence or sex crime.

The scheme is similar to legislation introduced in England and Wales following the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne, who was killed by convicted paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000.

It was introduced here following a campaign by former DUP MLA Lord Morrow, who said at the time it was vital that children were protected.

The revamped scheme will now enable anyone with concerns about someone who may pose a risk to children to find out if they have a criminal record for sexual or violent offences by sharing concerns online via the PSNI website.

It means no one has to visit a police station in person in order to make an application.

Detective Superintendent Lindsay Fisher of the Public Protection Branch explained: "This new online facility will make the process much more accessible to the public.

"These arrangements complement existing processes to manage sexual and violent offenders by the agencies involved in the Public Protection Arrangements for Northern Ireland. Those agencies, including PSNI, Probation Board and Social Services, already disclose information about criminal convictions when it is necessary to protect a child."

The senior officer continued: "Anyone making an application via the online form must be able to identify a specific child or children and a named individual about whom they have concerns.

"However, they will not automatically be the person to whom information is disclosed. Applicants must also be able to provide proof of their identity to police if required."

The initial information required on the form includes the applicant's details such as name and date of birth as well as the details of the individual they are enquiring about.

The details of the children that have contact with the individual are also required, along with any specific concerns or suspicions that the applicant has regarding the individual. The applicant will then be required to sign an electronic declaration in submitting the disclosure enquiry.

Detective Superintendent Fisher added: "The new online process builds on the Police Service of Northern Ireland's existing safeguarding processes; however it should be noted that this is not a facility to report crime.

"There is a separate non-emergency crime reporting facility on the Police Service of Northern Ireland website; alternatively members of the public can contact the police using 101 or 999 in an emergency.

"If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

"Once an application is submitted, initial checks should be carried out within 24 hours and the process should be completed within 28 days."

The public can access the disclosure scheme directly through an online form via the PSNI website at www.psni.police.uk/advice_information/child-protection/child-protection-disclosure-arrangements/

Belfast Telegraph