Parents will from today be able to check if anyone in close contact with their child has a history of sex offences.
This follows the national roll-out of Sarah’s Law, a legislation fought for by the mum of eight-year-old Sarah Payne.
The young girl was abducted and murdered by convicted sex offender Roy Whiting 10 years ago.
Sarah’s mother, Sara, was crowned the government’s Victims’ Champion after her ceaseless attempts to bring in the law based on the so-called Megan’s Law in the US which allows the publication of names, addresses and pictures of paedophiles in some states.
From today, any parent has the right to check with police if anyone with regular unsupervised access to their children has a criminal conviction for child sex offences.
Home Secretary Theresa May hailed the law as an “important step forward for child protection”.
She said: “The roll-out of this scheme is an important step forward for child protection in this country.
“Being able to make these checks reassures parents and the community and more importantly keeps children safer.
“Not only will it help parents, carers or guardians ensure that their children are safe, but it also assists the police in managing known sex offenders living in the community more effectively.
According to Home Office figures, more than 60 children were protected from abuse during the pilot scheme which started in four areas of the UK in September 2008, including Warwickshire.
Today, the scheme is being rolled out to eight other force areas, including the West Midlands and a further expansion is planned for the autumn, with a further 12 forces expected to join the programme.
Chief Constable Paul West, of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said: “These new arrangements are a major development in safeguarding children.
“They empower members of the public to initiate action aimed at protecting children and will help to increase public confidence in the police and other responsible authorities as part of their role in monitoring sex offenders.”