Concern at lack of paedophile disclosures

A national scheme which allows parents to obtain details of sex offenders is to be extended amid concerns it is failing to keep children safe.

Mark Cummings, 8, was murdered by a paedophile in 2004

Police Scotland said the Sex Offender Community Disclosure Scheme would now allow online applications – six years after it was introduced.

The system allows parents or carers to formally request information about whether a person who may have contact with their child is a registered sex offender.

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However, figures published yesterday showed just 54 applications were made in Glasgow and Edinburgh between the formation of Police Scotland in April 2013 and January 2016, and no disclosures were made.

The scheme has been dubbed Mark’s law after eight-year-old Mark Cummings, who was murdered by paedophile Stuart Leggate in Glasgow in 2004.

Speaking to Global Radio, Mark’s mother, Margaret Anne Cummings, expressed disappointment at the number of people using the scheme.

She said: “There is no good in me fighting all those years for a system to be put in place when the community aren’t told about this workable system there for information.

“I get up every day scared to open the paper in case there has been another murder of a child again, and another family has to gone through everything we have been through.

“We are not going to stop sex offenders from committing crimes but we have to find a more workable system that the police are confident with and the community are confident with.”

Police Scotland said it hoped the introduction of online applications would improve awareness and the accessibility of the disclosure process.

Previously, anyone making an application had to do it in person or over the phone.

Detective Superintendent Elaine Galbraith said: “Keeping children safe is everyone’s responsibility, we all have a role to play in ensuring children and young people grow up free from the risk and threat of harm.

“Parents and carers will now be able to make an initial application online rather than in person. Police Scotland will then assess whether it is appropriate to proceed to a full application for disclosure.

“Our first priority always will be to ensure that if a child is at risk of harm action will be taken immediately to ensure that child’s safety.”

Yesterday The Scotsman revealed that six registered sex offenders have evaded police and fled the UK.

Figures from Police Scotland show the force has live warrants in place for the men who are required to notify the authorities of their whereabouts under the Sexual Offences Act.

There are currently almost 4,000 sex offenders in the community in Scotland being monitored under Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA).

Last year Scottish Government statistics showed that between 2010 and 2015 there were 830 incidents of registered sex offenders not telling the police about a change of address or giving a required annual notification.