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Part 3: Guidance on the Disclosure to Third Parties of Information about Sex Offenders and others without Convictions who may Present a Risk to Children


Contents

  1. Purpose
  2. Introduction
  3. Scope
  4. Disclosure of Information to Third Parties
  5. Processes
  6. Making the Disclosure
  7. Examples of Disclosure to Third Parties

    Appendices

    Amendments to this Chapter


1. Purpose

This document provides guidance to employees of the relevant agencies (Police, Probation, and Children’s Services) on the management of the disclosure of information to third parties about sex offenders and others without convictions who may pose a risk to children and vulnerable adults.

The guidance applies to disclosures about adults and young people.


2. Introduction

The principles underpinning disclosure to third parties are the same as for information sharing, but inevitably introduce greater sensitivities given that disclosure may be to individual members of the public. Because of this, great caution should be exercised before making any such disclosure. It should be seen as an exceptional measure and part of an overall risk management plan.


3. Scope

This guidance relates to disclosing information to third parties about:

  1. Those persons who have been convicted of, cautioned for, or otherwise dealt with by the courts (including those convicted abroad) for a sexual offence and;
  2. Those who are believed to have abused a child but who do not have a conviction;

    AND/OR

  3. Who are considered by the relevant agencies to present a risk to children or others.

Third Parties

‘Third Parties’ are persons or bodies other than agencies having a responsibility for the assessment, monitoring and management of sex offenders in the community. Examples of third parties are child protection charities, partners of offenders, employers, head teachers, housing providers and voluntary organisations. In exceptional circumstances it may include parents whose children may come into contact with a person convicted of sex offences or believed to pose a risk of such abuse, but without a conviction, or carers of vulnerable adults.

This guidance does not cover;

  • Disclosure of information from criminal records for employment and related purposes;

    OR

  • The sharing of information between agencies (Police, Probation, Children’s Services, Health) which is covered in other protocols.


4. Disclosure of Information to Third Parties

General Rules

  • Where an agency considers that a sex offender, or in some instances a person without convictions, may pose a sexual risk to children or vulnerable adults, a risk assessment should be conducted which will establish whether or not there should be a disclosure of information to a third party. This risk assessment will be conducted in accordance with local protocols depending upon the status of the subject of the proposed disclosure. (See ‘Processes’ below);
  • The general presumption is that information should not normally be disclosed;
  • Each case must be considered carefully on its particular facts;
  • A decision to disclose to third parties will always need to be justified carefully on both legal and moral grounds, and should be taken only as part of a carefully managed process. (See ‘Processes’ below);
  • Agencies should act only in accordance with agreed protocols;
  • Those involved in the decision making process will have to consider carefully the purpose of disclosing information to a third party. Such a decision should normally be taken within the context of a plan for a named individual who poses a risk and/or child/vulnerable adult;
  • The offender, or person suspected of posing a risk, should always be informed that a disclosure about him/her is going to be made unless there are exceptional circumstances e.g. To inform the individual would present an increased risk of harm to a child. Where practicable, s/he should have the opportunity to challenge the information on which the decision was based (R v North Wales Police ex parte (AB & CD);
  • Where appropriate the offender or person who is thought to pose a risk should be given the opportunity to make the disclosure her/himself in a supervised and/or properly managed scenario; where the individual agrees to disclose the information to the third party, checks should then take place to ensure that the correct information has been disclosed. (See Appendix A: Disclosure to Third Parties MAPPA, MAPPP Conference Recommends Disclosure and Appendix B: Disclosure to Third Parties Assessment of Risk Meeting (Not MAPPP));
  • The decision to disclose - or not disclose - and the reason for this decision should always be recorded in writing by the decision-maker.


5. Processes

The ‘managed process’ that should be followed (see above) will depend upon the status of the offender or the subject of the proposed disclosure.

Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements

If an offender is recognised as posing a serious risk, s/he will be dealt with in accordance with the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). This will consist of Multi-Agency Public Protection Panels (MAPPPs). The protocol relating to MAPPA is entitled 'Protocol for Agencies on the Assessment and Management of Sexual and Violent Offenders or other offenders who may cause serious harm to the public’. It outlines the relevant risk assessment process that should be followed and provides clear guidance for those parties involved (see Managing Individuals who Pose a Risk of Harm to Children Procedure Procedure).

If a decision is made by the MAPPP meeting that disclosure should take place, the process for carrying that out is contained with Appendix A: Disclosure to Third Parties MAPPA, MAPPP Conference Recommends Disclosure.

The Police will take responsibility for this as lead agency in making the decision and disclosure. A recommendation to disclose must be passed for decision making by the relevant superintendent.

If the police superintendent refuses permission for disclosure, other agencies may wish to consider disclosing this information but should do so only in accordance with Appendix B: Disclosure to Third Parties Assessment of Risk Meeting (Not MAPPP) and they should take account of their own legal advice.

Registered Sex Offenders

If a person is a registered sex offender s/he will be dealt with in accordance with the Dorset Police policy on the Sex Offenders Act 1997. That policy provides clear guidelines on the management of registered sex offenders including advice on assessing the risk of disclosure to third parties. The management of registered sex offenders is essentially police business. In instances where there is a risk to a specific child, police will generally liaise with Children’s Services and other appropriate agencies about disclosure of information, convening a meeting where necessary.

The Police will take responsibility for this as lead agency in making the decision and disclosure. A recommendation to disclose must be passed for decision making by the relevant superintendent.

If a decision is made that a disclosure should take place, this will be managed by the police.

People with convictions against child/ren

If a situation occurs where a police officer or social worker consider that a person with a conviction against a child/ren, poses a risk to a child, but does not meet the criteria for a MAPPP, that person should arrange a risk assessment meeting to take place to consider whether there should be disclosure of information to a third party. The decision about who should be involved in such a risk assessment will depend on the circumstances of the case, but it must include as a minimum a manager from both Dorset Police and the relevant Children’s Services.

The police will take responsibility for this as lead agency in making the decision and disclosure. A recommendation to disclose must be passed for decision making by the relevant superintendent.

If a decision is made that disclosure should take place the process for carrying this out, is contained within Appendix B. If the police superintendent refuses permission for disclosure, other agencies may wish to consider disclosing this information but should do so only in accordance with Appendix B and they should take account of their own legal advice.

Persons believed to pose a risk but without convictions

The same process as outlined above will apply to those persons who are believed to pose a risk but have no convictions. This will include persons against whom credible allegations have been made but not pursued through a criminal prosecution. This may also include those who have been found not guilty or whose cases have been discontinued, but where a serious risk is still believed to exist. If the police superintendent refuses permission for disclosure, other agencies may wish to consider disclosing this information but should do so only in accordance with Appendix B and they should take account of their own legal advice.

The Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme

The Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme enables parents, guardians and third parties to enquire whether a person who has access to a child, is a registered sex offender or poses a risk to that child. Consideration will also be given to disclosing information about a person who poses a risk to a vulnerable adult(s).

Under the scheme, a parent, guardian or third party can make an application to find out if here is information which they need to know about in order to protect a child(ren) in their care. If there is a need to pass information to someone in order to allow them to better protect a child, then the police will disclose to whoever is in a position to use, or need, that information

Although each case will be considered separately, in consultation with partner agencies, disclosure will only be made to those people who are in a position to best protect or safeguard a child.

The scheme builds on existing processes to proactively manage sexual and violent offenders by the Dorset Police's Public Protection Units under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). Although disclosure already takes place when children are deemed to be at risk, the scheme enables parents, guardians and third parties to apply directly for information themselves.

Anyone living in Dorset can make an application for disclosure about someone who has contact with a child(ren). The person they are enquiring about must live in Dorset. For further information please go to Dorset Police website.


6. Making the Disclosure

The question of which agency should carry out the act of disclosure to third parties will depend upon the particular circumstances of the case. This will normally be the Police, but will be decided upon during the risk assessment discussion. In situations relating to specific children it is likely to be most appropriate that Children’s Services will work jointly with the police in ensuring that the disclosure takes place properly.

Disclosure should be made in person.

The person making the disclosure should explain that it is made in confidence and ensure that the recipient understands the reasons for having been given the information, what use they are to make of it, and any restrictions applying to its further dissemination.

Disclosure of information should always be accompanied by the offer of appropriate practitioner support and guidance both to the person to whom the information is disclosed, and the person about whom the information is being shared.


7. Examples of Disclosure to Third Parties

It is not possible to identify all the circumstances in which disclosure to third parties may need to be considered. However, the examples in Appendix C: Illustrative Examples of when it may be appropriate to Disclose to Third Parties may help to illustrate when disclosure may be appropriate. These examples were contained within the original guidance from the Home Office in 1999.


Appendices

Click here to view Appendix A: Disclosure to Third Parties MAPPA, MAPPP Conference Recommends Disclosure

Click here to view Appendix B: Disclosure to Third Parties Assessment of Risk Meeting (Not MAPPP)

Click here to view Appendix C: Illustrative Examples of when it may be appropriate to Disclose to Third Parties


Amendments to this Chapter

This chapter was reviewed and updated in August 2016. Previously a single chapter it has now been set out in four parts to help professionals more easily identify what they need. It should be read in its entirety.

End.