The proposed law – known as Sarah’s Law in tribute to murdered 8 year old Sarah Payne – could also be used to reveal whether convicted paedophiles live on a school route.
The proposals stop well short of US laws, which allow parents to access paedophiles’ photographs and addresses. UK parents will simply be told how many known paedophiles are in a particular area, and the degree of risk they are thought to pose. The only exception is single mums, who in some circumstances will be able to request a criminal record check on a new boyfriend.
Under current arrangements, police can already pass details of how many sex offenders are living nearby to concerned parents, but rarely do so. Now they will be obliged to inform parents who demand it. The trial, to be announced by Home Secretary John Reid within weeks, will initially be restricted to three areas. If successful, it could be extended nationwide after three to six months.