Pilot Protection Project for Tayside’s Children

From the website of the Scottish Government, I learn that a pilot project to provide parents with improved access to information about known sex offenders who may be in contact with their children will be trialled in Tayside from September 2009 until the end of May 2010.

Under the scheme, members of the public within the pilot area will be able to register a child-protection interest in a named individual who has unsupervised access to their child or children.

Police will be alerted to concerns, with a presumption that they will inform the parent, carer or guardian if the named person has convictions for sex offences. If the child is found to be at serious risk of harm then child protection measures will also be instigated.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is quoted as saying: “I’m pleased to confirm that Tayside will be the area for the sex offender disclosure pilot and that we are now liaising with all the criminal justice partners in the region as they prepare for implementation.”

“While we must all rightly be alert to stranger danger, most sexual offences against children are committed by individuals known to the child’s family – adults who abuse a position of trust with that child. This project provides another link which will assist in identifying vulnerable children and families who are unknown to police and care agencies to ensure that correct help and advice are provided.”

It will be interesting to see by what criteria the pilot will be judged, what counts as a “child-protection interest” (can you check up on your next door neighbours? the local shopkeeper? members of your own family?), and what will happen post-disclosure? Should we be stocking up on torches and pitchforks?

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