Lagan Valley Assembly Member Paul Givan has welcomed new legislation that will provide a public disclosure scheme about sex offenders and individuals with criminal convictions in order to protect children, which is similar to Sarah’s Law in the rest of the UK.
“This new law is rooted in an attempt to improve child protection arrangements,” explained Mr Givan. “It goes beyond that available in Great Britain in that parents there only receive information about previous child sexual offences.
“This scheme increase access to information about all qualified offences which would include sexual offences as well as convictions for offences such as domestic violence where this is necessary to protect the public.
“It is vital that the public have confidence in the arrangements that are in place to keep our children safe and I believe that this increased access to information can help to build that confidence.
“Unfortunately there will always be those who harm children who have no previous convictions, but this amendment represents a significant step forward from the current ‘one-way’ flow of information where parents are unable to request information about an individual who may be of concern. It is important that in any society the rights of the child are paramount; that is at the heart of this legislation. The concerns of parents and guardians are to the fore in this, as it empowers them with the information to make sure that their child or whoever they are responsible for looking after is protected.
“The legislation will empower those with responsibility for children to make decisions for the good of the child.
“It also addresses the concerns of the community, which is very much exercised by the issue, and wants our children to be safeguarded and protected. Those are the three most important pillars of the legislation: the children, those with responsibility for children and the broader community at large.”