Thursday, January 12, 2006

A cautionary tale

Ah, Ruth Kelly and sex offenders. Where to start with how much is wrong with what is going on at the minute?

Ok, wrong thing number one. The whole furore has come about because a man cautioned on suspicion of sex offences was later allowed to work in a school. So what happened to innocent until proven guilty eh? I mean, anyone convicted of sex offences will obviously never, ever, be allowed to teach again, and shouldn't be allowed anywhere near children full stop. They may reintegrate into society after many years, but even then an eye needs to be kept on them through fear of reoffending. But this person was not convicted, so, rightly, was not put on the oh-so-sinister sounding 'list 99' and was free to work with children.

Ok, looking at child porn is a bad thing, and I think that anybody looking at it should get more than a caution. But I'm also going to assume that there was a reasonably thorough investigation and the police either couldn't, or didn't see the need, to press with further charges. So really, that's that, case closed.

You might not like that (I don't like that), you might think it wrong for someone suspected of being a paedophile to work with children just in case, but frankly, the legal system does not work like that. You can't simply go around ruining people's lives by putting them on a checklist because 'they're a bit dodgy'. Yes, that's a bit of a poor solution, and does leave the door open for people to commit crimes that could have been prevented. But then you could stop a lot of crime by locking well-known thugs up too, but if you can't prove they're guilty, you can't lock them up. Future Crime, unfortunately, will stay in the realm of Minority Report for some time to come.

The second thing that is entirely wrong with the situation is that the government is to rush through new laws on sex offenders to plug the gap. Just what we need, more rushed laws, and rushed laws on such an emotive subject. That surely must go down as a recipe for disaster. Why can't the government weather the public relations storm and come up with a sensible solution to the problem, rather than jerking it's knee and papering over the cracks?

(The solution, by the way, isn't too far away from what we currently have. Most of the problem surrounding sex offenders is that people assume that the government should miraculously be able to stop all sex offenders from working in schools. That will never happen, just as stopping all crime will never happen. I actually think that if the government is holding back the names of a total of 10 people on the same list, that's not too bad across the whole nation. Please remember that this person only actually taught for eight days before it was flagged up by the police, so not too shabby all things considered)

And finally, Ruth Kelly. A purely personal thing actually, but Christ she annoys me. She seems totally incapable of dealing with, well, anything. Can we have someone else as education minister now please?

Mat's observations: in an attack of 'thinking alike', Paul's written this as I finished off assembling my links, so rather than two posts...

I work in the tourism industry, but a large part of my job involves concerns over child protection. It's a huge concern for me, so when Bichard proposed
the introduction of a national registration scheme as soon as next year.
back in June 2004, I was pretty pleased, as such a register would take a huge weight off my workload and let me concentrate on actually making money for my company. 6 months later he demanded an update and I agreed with him. A whole year after that? Kelly says she will try to get the recommendations implemented within 6 months. I agree with Paul, the idea that people can't be rehabilitated at all bothers me immensely.

Child Protection is part of my job, this Govt is failing to implement procedures that will (if done correctly) really help me out. Instead, it's rushing through stuff as part of a damage limitation exercise. It's not just Blair, the whole Govt is tired.

Update: Curious Hamster has more, and GenderGeek has a different, and interesting, take on the media fuss -Mat


MatGB said...

I'll, um, stop writing my article on the subject taking an almost identical approach now...

chris said...

It is barely possible that New Labour wouldn't use this as an excuse to rush out some haft thought out legislation, probably overly broad and attacking civil liberties.

As you point out this guy was technically innocent, so this offers the prefect excuse for another run at 'innocent until proven guilty'. The destruction of which has been one of New Labour's lode stars since coming to power.

It is what us loony wingnut eurosceptics sometimes refer to as a 'beneficial crisis'. Not the result of a conspiracy, but people driven by there ideals and quick enough on their feet to take any opportunity to further their cause. I expect them at least to use this as the excuse for something horrible they had already been planning.

Devil's Kitchen said...

You can't simply go around ruining people's lives by putting them on a checklist because 'they're a bit dodgy'... But then you could stop a lot of crime by locking well-known thugs up too, but if you can't prove they're guilty, you can't lock them up.

Do you want to go and tell that to Neil Harding?


MatGB said...

Oh, Harding is so funny. Reading the comments in that thread, he has no sense of humour, he doesn't even notice people are taking the piss.

I would tell him, but, well, is it worth the effort? The whole world and it's mother are telling him anyway, he doesn't seem to want to listen.

PaulJ said...

I figure he's beyond help. People posting is only going to antagonise, not actually make him see reason.

I wouldn't say I laughed though, more like bashed my head against my desk...