Soham police officer attacks Government’s new vetting scheme

#1
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6834544.ece


Soham police officer attacks Government’s new vetting scheme


Adam Fresco and Rosemary Bennett



The man who led the investigation into the Soham murders has attacked the Government’s new vetting scheme, which will force 11 million adults to have formal criminal record checks.

Retired Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Stevenson said that “no amount of legislation, record keeping or checking” could prevent future murders of children by paedophiles. He accused ministers of creating a state of paranoia after the deaths of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002.

Mr Stevenson said that he felt compelled to voice his criticism after being ordered to stop taking pictures of his grandson at a village football match. He said that efforts to keep paedophiles at bay had gone too far and needed to get “back on an even keel”.

His opposition to increased checks came as the Government ordered a surprise review into its controversial scheme to vet adults who work with children or vulnerable adults.
Related Links

* New system would have barred Huntley

* Crime checks for parents ferrying children

* Briefing: A check too far

Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, said that he wanted to look again at the scope of the Independent Safeguarding Authority to make sure the “right balance” had been struck on how many people needed to register and have their criminal records checked.

It is the first acknowledgement by the Government of public anger over the scheme.

Last week The Times revealed that parents ferrying children to Brownies or football matches were the latest group to be affected. That led to criticism from Sir Michael Bichard, whose report into the murders of Holly and Jessica led to the creation of the authority. The girls, both aged 10, were murdered by Ian Huntley, a school caretaker.

At the weekend the NSPCC children’s charity also questioned if the authority was going too far.

Writing in The Times today, Mr Stevenson says: “The furore which has gripped the nation since [Soham] has made us all paranoid. Is it in the interests of children?

“Commentators keep referring back to Huntley and the events in Soham, citing this as the cause. I am sure Sir Michael Bichard did not intend this wave of recrimination over one case.”

Mr Stevenson said that his criticism was triggered by an incident on a family day out last weekend when he was celebrating his grandson’s ninth birthday. Watching him play in goal for his Oxfordshire village football team with the rest of his family, he took some photographs. He was approached by one of the managers and told he would have to get permission from every parent of every child playing if he wanted to keep them. Mr Stevenson said: “I felt humbled. I am now a suspected paedophile. Along, I suspect, with millions of other parents and grandparents.

“I looked at the pictures I had taken. They were of my grandson making several saves as his team were under pressure. I am sure he would have liked to look back on them in the future. I deleted the photographs, never to reach my computer screen.

“I suppose there was an element of embarrassment. It just never crossed my mind that you were not allowed to take pictures and it was contrary to the regulations. This was not what Bichard wanted; it’s an over-reaction to the situation. I just said, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset anybody’.”

Mr Stevenson is at pains to point out that Huntley did not have access to the girls because he was a caretaker but because his partner was their teacher and they had gone to see her at the house that she shared with Huntley, but she was away. “What he did to Holly and Jessica was as high as you can get on the offending scale, but did he come into contact with them through his appointment as a caretaker? Not exactly. You see he was caretaker of Soham Village College, the senior school for over 11-year-olds.

“He was alone. Somehow he conned the girls into the house. They were never seen alive again. Did he achieve this because he was a caretaker? He could have been in any occupation, a lorry driver, architect, anything, and happened to live with a woman these two girls knew well and trusted.

“How do we prevent such chance encounters happening? You can’t. No amount of legislation, record-keeping or checking can ever totally prevent this type of crime. Thankfully they are extremely rare.

“We are subjecting our whole community to paranoia. On Friday a BBC journalist announced on breakfast television that “a million children are being abused”. Just where do these figures come from, how do we know?

“Are we feeding the paranoia that stops a grandfather taking a picture of his nine-year-old grandson playing football? Surely this cannot continue, someone needs to put things back on an even keel.”

The office of the Information Commissioner has made clear that there is no law preventing people taking pictures of children performing in events or taking part in sport.

David Smith, the Deputy Information Commissioner, said this year that parents should be free to capture significant moments on camera: “We want to reassure them and other family members that, whatever they might be told, data protection does not prevent them taking photographs of their children and friends at school events. Photographs taken for the family album are exempt from the Act and citing the Data Protection Act to stop people taking photos or filming their children at school is wrong.”

Comments?
 
#2
Would existing laws have stopped the Soham incident if they'd been followed? If they had then why are the government trying to bring in new laws when they can't enforce the existing ones and why haven't people been held accountable for not enforcing them. If not, then if the new proposed laws were applied would they have stopped the events within the current enforcement capabilities?

Kiddie fidlers will get round any enforcement you try to impliment (sp?). You won't stop it but you have to try. I don't know the answer, as a potential partent I'd like one but I have to take the risk to trust someone in a position of responsibility, if I don't then my (potential) kids upbringing will suffer.
 
#3
all these laws do nothing to stop a first time peodophile either, as the article states it's a state of paranoia that is being created in our country.
 
#4
It's a wee bit rich this Soham copper mouthing-off about this now, under today's "existing laws" - as Ian Huntley was already on the kiddie-fiddlers' register, as it was constituted then, at the time of him taking his job at the school - it's just that the police didn't pass that info on to the school when he applied for the job.

Oops!
 
#5
Cow said:
Would existing laws have stopped the Soham incident if they'd been followed? If they had then why are the government trying to bring in new laws when they can't enforce the existing ones and why haven't people been held accountable for not enforcing them. If not, then if the new proposed laws were applied would they have stopped the events within the current enforcement capabilities?

Kiddie fidlers will get round any enforcement you try to impliment (sp?). You won't stop it but you have to try. I don't know the answer, as a potential partent I'd like one but I have to take the risk to trust someone in a position of responsibility, if I don't then my (potential) kids upbringing will suffer.
It's implement since you asked.
But you got it in one with that sentence. There is no way to stop paedophiles with legislation. It might help if they were locked up for life, they will never ever be rehabilitated so why release them on licence? Their freedom is worthless compared with the freedom of my children.

The way to make it very difficult for paedophiles is not to make everyone so fearful that we're all watching each other. It's far better to foster a spirit of trust and community with each other, when I was a little lad everyone knew everyone else and we knew that we could go to any of our friends houses and it would be a safe haven and that they could contact our parents as they were all friends in our community.
Adults with children do not need vetting to see whether or not they could be trusted to take friends children to football matches. As a parent I will make the decision who may take our children out and no fcuking government official will tell me otherwise. I'll be damned if I'm going to let anyone else take away my rights to parent my own children. I've bloody well earned the right and this government can bloody do one.
Someone told me just a couple of weeks ago that I needed permission to take photos in the park, I asked them to quote the law that supported this. She said she couldn't so I told her that no such law exists and challenged her to find one that does. The problem is that everyone is becoming an expert on what we can and can't do but with very little actual knowledge of the law, just a rumour that it's not allowed. We're being falsely advised by this government who have an ulterior motive, in that if we're all scared they will be able to pass whatever laws they like in the name of public safety and charge us for the privilege. The game's up now though and thankfully people are really starting to question it all. I just hope it's enough to get Labour out of power next year.
 
#6
BarkingSpider said:
I just hope it's enough to get Labour out of power next year.
Governement isn't the problem. Their advisors are. We've alread seem organisations such as the NSPCC disagree with suggestions/'goverment' recomendations, the goverment doesn't have a clue, it'll only suggest what it is 'advised' at the time. Hopefully the next government will listen to public opinion but I doubt it very much. They may make out they will but..
 
#7
Cow said:
BarkingSpider said:
I just hope it's enough to get Labour out of power next year.
Governement isn't the problem. Their advisors are. We've alread seem organisations such as the NSPCC disagree with suggestions/'goverment' recomendations, the goverment doesn't have a clue, it'll only suggest what it is 'advised' at the time. Hopefully the next government will listen to public opinion but I doubt it very much. They may make out they will but..
I agree about their advisors but I think the government is a very big part of the problem. This is part of their social experiment. Government by lawyers. How could that ever be a good idea. Lawyers are just a rung down the hate ladder from estate agents. How on earth did they get into power. Don't answer that.
 
#8
What everyone forgets about the Soham case is that Huntley was not the caretaker at the school attended by the two poor victims. He was the caretaker at the secondary school. The only reason that he had any contact with the girls is because Carr, his girlfriend, worked at the primary school.

So that fact that he was a caretaker at another school was utterly irrelevant to the case. He might equally well have been still working as a barman. His opportunity to murder the girls would have been entirely the same.

It is the deepest of ironies that the Stasi system now being implemented as a result of his vile crimes would not have done anything to protect Holly Wells or Jessica Chapman. Irony number two - Huntley only got the caretaker job because the previous caretaker had been sacked for having an inappropriate relationship with a girl at the secondary school.
 
#9
Legislation does absolutely nothing. It's proper policing and enforcement which does. This 'Government' has placed innumerable bits of legislation on the Statute Book, virtually all of it useless and most of it unenforceable.

Since when have any additional laws helped to reduce crime? All they do is criminalise more and more people.
 
#10
As BarkingSpider said, there is no legal reason why I can't take photos of my or anyone else's kids when they are in a public place.

I would have expected this ex-policeman to have known this and not spread the falsehood that you need to get peoples permission before taking their photo.

Apart from that the piece has some good and valid points.

S_R
 
#11
'Someone told me just a couple of weeks ago that I needed permission to take photos in the park, I asked them to quote the law that supported this. She said she couldn't so I told her that no such law exists and challenged her to find one that does.'

Once again, the problem lies with certain individuals need to push others around. Give a little man a bit of power and he will abuse it. As has been said here, so much useless and ambiguous legislation has been put on the statute books over the last 12 years that no one knows what is legal and what is not.
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads

Top