After you apply for information under Sarah's Law we will:
make some checks within 24 hours and if we think a child is in immediate danger we'll take action right away
decide if your request falls under Sarah's Law or not
get in touch to explain our decision
carry out a more in-depth interview within 10 days, if we decide to progress your application
carry out detailed checks and a full assessment of all the information we have
decide whether there is any information to share with you or anyone else
We'll only ever contact you at a time and in a way that you have told us is safe for you.
If your request does not fall under Sarah's Law and we decide not to progress your application, we'll explain why and what we might do instead.
For example, if you're suspicious about someone's behaviour but are not asking for information on behalf of a specific child or children, we will not be able to share information with you under Sarah’s Law. But we still want to hear about your concerns, and we'll always take action if we need to keep a child safe.
If we decide to progress your application, we will arrange an in-depth interview with you.
The interview should take place within 10 days of your application.
It will usually be in person, but could happen over the phone.
The in-depth interview is for us to find out more details and to make sure that your request is genuine.
We will not tell you any information about the person you are asking about at this stage. We have to complete our checks first.
We may give you more information about the Sarah's Law scheme, and general information on keeping children safe.
At the in-depth interview you'll need to show us:
proof of your identity and address
proof of your relationship to the child or children you are asking about
Ideally you'll be able to show two forms of identification, which could include:
other trusted photo identification (like a foreign national's official ID card)
household utility bill (electricity, gas, water, council tax)
A birth certificate or personal child health record (red book) could be used to prove your relationship to the child.
If you don't have these forms of identification, that won't necessarily stop you from making an application. It may be possible for someone else (like a social worker or health visitor) to confirm your or the child's identity. Talk to us about identification when we contact you to work out a solution with us.
We can't tell you anything under Sarah's Law if we can't confirm your identity, or if you choose to remain anonymous. This does not mean we'll ignore your concerns. We'll always take action if we need to keep a child safe.
If you lie in your application
We might take action against you if you deliberately lie to us to try to get information about someone.
Next we'll do more detailed checks on the person you are asking about. We will use any information we find out to decide if they are a risk to the child or children you are asking about.
We'll work with other people like social care, probation and health services to find out more. We may share information you have given us with them as part of our investigation.
If we think we're likely to share some information about the person you have asked about, we might speak to them at this point, unless we think this is not appropriate.
If it's appropriate to share some information, we'll tell whoever can best use the information to keep the child safe. This might not be the person who made the application, it might be someone else (like the child's parents).
In some cases we might share information with more than one person, if that's what we need to do to keep all the children involved safe. For example, if the child's parent is under 18 themselves, we might share information with their parent, carer or social worker.
If we don't share information with you because you are not the best person to keep the child safe, we won't tell you that we're sharing information with someone else. This does not mean we're ignoring your concerns. We'll always take action if we need to keep a child safe.
The maximum time from your initial enquiry to us sharing information (or telling you that there is nothing to share) should be 45 days.
Keeping information confidential
If we plan to share some information with you, you'll be asked to sign a legal agreement promising not to tell anyone else. We will not share any information with you if you don't sign this confidentiality agreement.
If the person you're asking about has no previous record of sexual offences against children, and they don't pose any known or suspected risks to the child or children, then we won't tell you anything except that there's no information to share.
This does not mean that there is definitely no risk, only that we don't know about any risks. You should continue to keep the child safe by following our advice on child abuse.
If we share information you must keep it confidential
We may take action against you if you share the information further. If there are other people you feel should know, whether your family or others, tell us and we'll decide what to do.