'Sarah's law' comes a step nearer

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Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, is to revive shelved plans to give parents the right to check with police if anyone given regular access to their children is a convicted paedophile, it emerged last night.

She has agreed to trial a scheme allowing single mothers to run checks on prospective new partners to ensure they have no child-sex convictions.

The ground-breaking project is to be run initially as a pilot scheme in four English police force areas.

It will also enable checks on family members or neighbours who regularly look after their children. Police and probation services will exercise strict controls over what information is revealed in each case and disclosure will be carefully controlled. It is understood, if children are thought to be at risk, parents and carers will be told.

The News of the World hailed this as a victory in its campaign for a "Sarah's law" allowing parents to obtain details of convicted paedophiles living nearby.