Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Ireland, Sarah's Law and "Confused.Com"

Both a good and a bad article at the same time.
The good news is, that Ireland is to get a version of Sarah's Law by the end of the month. The version will incorporate most of the elements of Sarah's Law that the UK and Jersey have. The only difference is, according to the response from Barnardos, is that only certain people will be able to request disclosure, these being parents, guardians, school principles and club leaders. I must admit to being a bit bemused about this, bearing in mind that it matters not who makes the disclosure requests, the thing that matters with Sarah's Law is that disclosures are only ever made to those who have direct responsibility for the child(ren) involved. Quite what the end achievement will be by having this restriction in place - who knows?
Anyway, back to the article in the Irish Times.
In essence quite a balanced article, however the author seems to be bringing up a few assumptions, and writing about a few things that is not relevant with Sarah's Law as it stands in the UK and Jersey.

Going back a year and a half or so,  when we set up the Facebook page for Sarah's Law for the Islands, and the associated groups, and when contact was made with Home Affairs here in Jersey, there were quite a few misconceptions about Sarah's Law and how it worked, Thankfully these were explained away, and we now have this law here.
The first misleading part of this piece  / misconception is the headline itself. If you glanced quickly at this, you would automatically think that Sarah's Law was the same as Megan's Law - some sort of "Name and Shame" scheme, where names of known paedophiles and child sex offenders were in the public domain somewhere and could be accessed by anyone and everyone.
Simply not true.
The whole purpose of Sarah's Law, is to provide a controlled disclosure to the person best placed to protect the child(ren) involved - this normally being parents or guardians. No disclosure is ever made to just anyone, no information is ever released into the public domain, and before a disclosure is made, the parents / guardians have to sign an agreement stating that they will not release this information to anyone else. If they do, there are repercussions by law.
This in itself, renders the rest of the assumptions in the article obsolete.
As there is no public disclosure, no "name and shame", no passing information to third parties", then there is no reason to either "driving offenders underground" or "encouraging vigilantism". From what I know when I was campaigning for Sarah's Law in Jersey, there have been no confirmations of these happening in the UK, so I do not think that Ireland should be worrying about this.
One of the most informative articles written about the CSODS is enclosed below - this is a link that I have shared previously on our facebook groups, and explains the law in a plain and easy to understand format.
Hopefully Ireland will get this Law passed, hopefully it will help to protect children from potential abuse, and hopefully all the fears in the article will prove unfounded.

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