Northern Ireland

Parents given more check powers against sex offenders

An young girl sitting on a bed Image copyright Jupiter Images
Image caption Anyone can now go to a police station and apply for information about a person who they believe is a risk to children

A new scheme enabling people to check on someone they suspect might pose a risk to children has come into force in Northern Ireland.

People can now check with police on whether someone has a criminal record for sexual or violent offences.

Information will then be passed on to the child's parent or guardian.

The system is already used in England and Wales. NI Justice Minister David Ford said it should make reporting easier.

"It has always been the case that people could, and should, bring concerns to the police about the safety of a child," Mr Ford said.

"These new provisions make it easier, allowing any member of the public to come to a police station and apply for information about a person who they believe is a risk to children.

"Information about criminal convictions will only be provided to the person with primary care responsibility for the specific child and only if it is necessary to protect that child.

"It is, however, important to note that if there is an immediate risk of harm to a child, this will be addressed through current child protection procedures."

PSNI Det Chf Super George Clarke said police were committed to keeping children safe.

"This scheme provides for someone to come to a police station, make an application and, in the application, they specify the child that they are concerned about and the person they believe may pose a risk to that child," he said.

"That application is then considered by the police and, where there is relevant conviction information, the police will make a disclosure to the parent or other caregiver of the child."

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