POLICE told six parents in West Mercia that someone with access to their child was a sex offender last year.

Child abuse prevention helpline Stop It Now! says the rising number of applications made under the sexual offender disclosure scheme Sarah’s Law is proof of increasing awareness among parents and carers.

Sarah’s Law, officially known as the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, was introduced in 2011 following the abduction and murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne.

It allows anyone to ask their local police force if someone has a record of committing sex crimes against children.

West Mercia Police received 124 applications under the scheme in 2018-19, according to a Freedom of Information request by Portsmouth University’s journalism department.

Of these, six (5%) resulted in the police disclosing details of a sex offender’s history.

Applications under Sarah’s Law can be made by anyone, but the police will only inform the person who is able to protect the child.

Disclosures under the scheme have nearly doubled following the introduction of the law, rising from 120 in 2011-12 to 219 last year.

The 1,553 applications received last year was a 78% increase compared to 2011-12.

In West Mercia, applications have increased 143% since 2011-12, when there were 51.

Donald Findlater, director of child abuse helpline Stop It Now!, said:“I think the rise is demonstrating a level of interest in safeguarding children and seeking information greater than we have had historically.

“The fact that people are making the applications demonstrates to me that people are aware that the children they love and care about may be vulnerable to abuse.”