Child sex offender disclosure scheme – advice for practitioners

The child sex offender disclosure scheme (CSOD) was rolled out across all England and Wales police forces in 2011, following a successful pilot. It lets people who care for children apply to find out if someone has a record for child sexual offences.

The scheme (also sometimes known as ‘Sarah’s Law’) allows anyone to formally ask the police if someone with access to a child has a record for child sexual offences. Police will reveal details confidentially to the person most able to protect the child (usually parents, carers or guardians) if they think it is in the child’s interests.

Any member of the public can approach the police with concerns about a named individual and all concerns will be investigated. However, where it is considered necessary and appropriate to release information, such disclosure will only be made to the parent, carers or guardian directly, not to the third party who made the initial inquiry.

Information will only be disclosed to a parent, carer or guardian when providing such information will increase protection for a child or young person.

Only 20 per cent of child sexual offences are carried out by strangers. The majority of child sexual offenders are known to their victims. They are often a member of the family, a friend of the victim, or a friend of the victim’s family.

How will this service help to protect children
This service enables parents, carers or guardians to request information about people involved in their child’s life if they are concerned that he or she might be a registered child sexual offender – for example, if a single parent wants to find out more about their new partner.

The scheme does not replace checks done by the DBS process run by the Independent Safeguarding Authority. For more information visit the government website

Sex offender disclosure scheme guidance
The NSPCC have produced a fact sheet on the scheme which is available from their website

The Home Office has produced a number of guidance documents and tools to help practitioners implement the scheme – view the Child sex offender disclosure scheme guidance document and appendices

A communications guidance pack is also available, based on the lessons learned by the four pilot areas. They are aimed at helping police forces increase awareness and understanding of the scheme – view the Child sex offender disclosure scheme communications guidance

The MSB  has adopted the GMSP procedures regarding risks posed by people with convictions against children, including bail arrangements for adults charged. These can be found in chapter 5.3 of the


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