Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Police: Sarah's Law Won't Work

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Police: Sarah's Law Won't Work

Article excerpt


ROY WHITING would never have been caught so fast and red-handed with the forensic evidence which convicted him if Sarah's Law had been in place, senior police officers believe.

The nationwide bandwagon, given a major boost by the heartfelt plea from Sarah Payne's mother after Whiting was jailed for life has disturbed detectives on the case.

Supporters of Sarah's Law want the right for residents to have instant access to a register of sex offenders who move into their neighbourhood.

Police are reluctant to speak out in public on policy matters which are strictly for politicians, but privately they have deep reservations.

Det Supt Jeremy Paine, head of Sussex CID, said that in the US, Megan's Law - like Sarah named after a victim of a convicted paedophile - had failed to produce the effect campaigners had hoped.

He went on: "In the US where the equivalent of Sarah's Law is in place, there is no evidence that it made any difference to recidivism or to the parents and grandparents of children, but there is evidence that it might have driven sex offenders underground.

"In Sussex, 98 per cent of convicted paedophiles have registered on the sex offenders list which means that we know where they are. It is that very fact which allowed us to go to Roy Whiting so quickly and to gather evidence."

He added: "Sarah's Law is a matter for national debate and for the Home Office to consider. It is not for me to say what should happen nationally but as far as I am aware in Sussex, there is no evidence that it would have helped in this case in the way of the overall management of sex offenders."

Whiting, 42, was unanimously convicted at Lewes Crown Court of the kidnap and murder of eight-year-old Sarah in July last year.

Three years ago, he was released after serving only two and a half years for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a young girl. …

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