ONLY one in nine requests by parents to confirm suspected paedophiles results in a child sex offender being identified by police, it emerged today.
Concerned Scots parents have put in at least 379 official requests to police to check adults they fear pose a risk to their children.
But since the Keeping Children Safe (KCS) scheme started in 2010, just 40 of these requests have lead to a sex offender being identified.
Police have confirmed that in 89 of the cases they told parents the suspected person had no convictions for sexual offences.
Of the remaining 250 cases, reasons for refusing to give the information included concern the parents might pass on the information to others, the application was not made properly or disclosure would not be “relevant”.
Child protection campaigners last night criticised some of the grounds on which disclosure was refused and complained that the number of refusals seemed “very high”.
The scheme was introduced after the 2004 murder of a young boy by a convicted sex offender living near his Glasgow home.
The demands for a “Mark’s Law” turned into the KCS, which gives parents and carers the right to ask for relevant previous convictions of adults with access to their child.
All of Scotland’s eight police forces were asked under the Freedom of Information Act to provide details of the number of requests they had received and how they had been handled.
Scotland’s largest force, Strathclyde, said it had received 40 requests since it joined the scheme in April 2011 but had not identified anyone as posing a risk.
There were no child protection concerns in 35 cases, social workers dealt with four cases, and one person “self disclosed”.
Lothian and Borders, the second-biggest force, said it had received 88 applications since April 2011, resulting in information about 15 child sex offenders being passed on.
Of the remaining 73 applications, three cases were turned down “due to concerns individual making request will further disclose info”.
A further 17 cases did not meet the criteria of the scheme, while nine requests were turned down because the relevant information already held by parents and disclosure was “necessary and/or proportionate to protect a child”.
Tayside Police received 82 applications, making 31 disclosures. Requests were turned down on grounds including not being relevant or they had “sufficient information” from sources including the media.
Campaigners last night said the KCS scheme needed to be looked at again and suggested the application process was “over complicated”.
Lyn Costello, of Mothers Against Murder and Aggression (Mamaa), said: “The numbers of requests being turned down do seem very high.
“If many people are not getting the disclosures they request because they have incorrectly applied for it, then it would be worth looking at procedure, it could suggest that procedure is over complicated.”
Ms Costello said police should not turn down requests on the basis that parents may have already got the information from the media.
She added: “The scheme can only be successful if all agencies work together to make it work.”
Elsewhere in Scotland, Central Scotland police received 21 applications, making one disclosure and one “partial disclosure”.
Fife police received 73 applications and made two disclosures. Northern Constabulary gave out information in six of their 26 cases while Dumfries and Galloway gave out information about three offenders.
In 11 of the remaining cases, officers decided not to give information because “there was no significant contact with, or access to children, and no adverse risk was identified”.
Grampian police did not respond to the Freedom of Information request.
The campaign for KCS started with a campaign by Margaret Ann Cummings, whose eight-year-old son, Mark, was killed by convicted sex offender Stuart Leggate in Glasgow in 2004.
Leggate, who had previous convictions for sexually assaulting children and was on the sex offenders register, strangled Mark and threw his body down the flat’s refuse chute.
But Anne Houston, Chief Executive for Children 1st said the charity was confident children were being protected under the KCS scheme.
She said: “To protect Scotland’s children we need to continually improve the monitoring and supervision of people who have harmed children before and this scheme is a significant step in the right direction.
“Decisions to disclose information are based on several factors and, following investigation from police forces, it would appear that the majority of children in question have not been at risk from previous offenders.
“We are confident that, if there was a serious or immediate risk of harm, then measures would have been taken to protect that child.”
A spokesman from Scottish Government-funded Stop it Now, who co-ordinate the scheme, said police had launched investigations on the back of disclosures made under the scheme.
He said: “It is coming up to the first anniversary of the scheme in Scotland and the figures show that it is being used.
“The scheme is being used and police are helping to keep children safe. This is providing another avenue for someone to get a disclosure if they are worried about someone.
“It is up to the parents to protect their children and as a result of this scheme there have been instances where the police have launched an investigation,” he added.