We Are All Sex Offenders Now 46


In another example of the mad obsession with seeking a delusory security no matter what the impact on liberty, the government is bringing in a screening scheme which means that, at the government’s own estimate, 11.4 million people who come into contact with children will need to obtain a certificate to show that they have no relevant criminal record. This will cost them £64 each.

Statistically the chance of any given child being harmed by someone other than a family member is extremely small – and almost certainly no larger than it ever was. This is an extraordinary, even ludicrous, apotheosis of the idea that the state should attempt to pre-empt all evil.

If we can pull back from the manipulation of fear and the exaggeration of risk, the madness of the scheme is evident. Not only Scoutleaders, choirmasters and football coaches will need to be certified, but so will parents who give a lift to other people’s children to school, and authors who enter schools to chat about their books (including me). If you give a lift to school to a neighbour’s children a few times without beiing certified, you will get a criminal record and a £5,000 fine.

Relatives, of course, are exempt – which as they are statistically by a huge degree the most likely people to harm the kids, only further points up the nonsense.

I hesitated to write that, lest the government has the wheeze of bringing in a certificate you need to be an uncle.

The scheme represents a monstrous new bureaucracy and yet a further radical extension of government databases on ordinary people. It will not stop child abuse at all. To take as one example the recent high profile case of Vanessa George, Plymouth nursery teacher accused of child sex abuse. Ms George could have easily obtained a certificate as she had no prior convictions.

Of the 0.00001% of those coming into voluntary and helpful contact with children, who have a secret motive to harm them, most will be volunteering because that is their only opportunity of access. The man who wants to be a scout assistant because he wants access to molest children is not likely to have other access and therefore not likely to have a record which the check will show up – if he’s daft enough to apply in his own name.

There are already other mechanisms which help stop convicted sex offenders committing crime again. They are not perfect, but you will never stop all evil. The determined criminal will get hold of certificates through aliases or forgery if they really wish, or just snatch kids from playgrounds.

This scheme makes as much sense as would a requirement to produce a certificate saying that you are not a bank robber, before you are permitted to enter a bank. A society that can support this scheme has been firghtened out of its senses. The government seeks to treat everyone as a sex offender unless they can prove otherwise. It is crazy. The effect will be to stigmatise normal relationships with children, to point suspicion at anybody who chooses to interact with other people’s children, and to reduce participation in scouts, guides, sports and many other voluntary activities.

Sooner or later an “Agency” run by some of the government’s business friends will be coining money from running the scheme. It’s an ill wind…


46 thoughts on “We Are All Sex Offenders Now

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  • Clark

    Quite right, Duncan, but don’t try helping a lost or injured child unless you have the appropriate certificate or you could end up with a criminal record and a 5000 pound fine!

  • mrjohn

    @Tartarus

    What exactly does your post have to do with the topic of this thread ?

    Is it the “You can’t talk about this unless you talk about that” argument. Personally I think the plight of the Amazonian Tree Frog is of pressing importance, so kindly don’t post on this site unless you post a paragraph in support of our little web footed friends.

    Thanking you in advance.

    Concerning the topic of this thread.

    Somewhere along the way we seem to have accepted that people cannot be rehabilitated. Once committed of an offense branded a criminal for life. Might as well fire all our probation officers and opt for punitive vengeful justice.

  • kathz

    This important topic is being muddied by the routine and knee-jerk anti-feminism of a couple of posters. I would describe myself as a feminist – I support such controversial causes as equal pay, an equal voice in the democratic process and ownership of my own body. It’s a shame that when I read Craig’s blog and follow the debates in the comments, I have to wade through posts spouting the kind of misogynist vitriol that makes me feel acutely uncomfortable.

  • James Chater

    Craig, you wrote: “Sooner or later an “Agency” run by some of the government’s business friends will be coining money from running the scheme. It’s an ill wind…”

    Good point! It would be interesting to know which companies are waiting in the wings ready to supply the necessary software for this mad scheme, and what their relationship to NuLab currently is. This could be a case where the availability of the means creates the ends. In other words, we’ve got the software, let’s make a campaign contribution to NuLab and cash in on the hysteria whipped up by people’s exaggerated fears about paedophilia… I am sure there is a whole book to be written about upward income redistribution, the link between campaign contributions, government contracts, the revolving door relationship between government and its suppliers (retiring ministers becoming directors of the companies that are government suppliers, etc.). I think Monbiot’s “Captive State: the Corporate Take-over of Britain” touches on this subject, but since its publication there is clearly a lot more to be said.

    I am not accusing anyone, but one must ask: who gains? The armaments, surveillance and security industries all gained from 9/11. Now it looks as though some people are going to make a pretty penny out of the illusion that the government is “doing something” about paedophilia.

  • manchedave

    I heard one of the weasels nvolved in administering this nightmare on Radio 4 .

    She said —- ” Of course I can’t comment on individual cases ” ……… when posed a hypothetical question, no case involved , and was allowed to get away with it !

  • Stuart

    Craig is 100% correct stranger abuse of children is so rear that when it happens it makes headline news over the whole country. Parents especialy younger ones that have been indoctrinated sorry I meant educated under this regime are so paranoid now they phone the police every time someone takes a photo in the Park if their kids are within a mile of them. Why a paedophile would get excited from photos of fully clothed kids in the playground that he can see in reality anyway is beyond me, but logic dosnt cut it with the brain washed mums who have been dragged up thinking all men are ped-o-files. Police turn up and accuse some poor old tourist of being a kiddy fiddler. Dont get me wrong a male was convicted recently of taking thousands of upskirt shots of girls in T Square London. But thats very unusual. And to be controversial you could argue is it better a paedophile gets his kicks from looking at photos or touching up a kid?

    I can pedict that this measure will not protect a single child but will make one of nu labours IT mates very rich.

  • anticant

    Would kathz please tell us who is spouting misogynist vitriol on this thread? And would she tell us whether or not she supports this barmy scheme, and whether she thinks it will provide more effective protection for children than exists already?

  • Apostate

    Lest we lose sight of the case which is used to justify this latest episode in NuLabour’s totalitarianization programme-the caretaker who they locked up for the Soham murders is innocent.

    Do the research.Go to http://www.justjustice.org/algebra.html

    or joevialls.co.uk or Trowbridge Ford’s excellent codshit.blogspot.com

    Algebra of Justice legal experts argue convincingly that the police investigations in both the Huntley and Whiting cases were characterised by placing of evidence in venues by the police to link both men with murders neither of them committed.

    Thus the motives for the government measures which followed on the paedophile scare they initiated are unikely to be the ones stated.Protecting our children is certainly not one of these motives.

    Rather in the Huntley case the government was desperate to cover up the likely involvement of US service personnel from a nearby airbase in the abduction and murder of the two girls.

    Huntley came forward as being one of the last witnesses to see the girls alive which stands out as an unlikely statement for a murderer to make.Indeed on the contrary it suggests that he had more faith in the police investigation and criminal justice system who had already designated him the fall guy than they truly deserved.

    The motives for the paedophile phobia the government instigated are by now manifold.

    Initially the Huntley conviction got Blair off the hook at a time when Angl-US involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq was going particularly badly.

    Since then the police state agenda has become more pronounced with the government keen to extend surveillance of all citizens via proliferating databases.

    Now with government revenue sources aside from stealth taxes all but dried up the new checks are vital sources of money for them.

    Stigmatizing working class men like Huntley and Whiting as child murderers is a means to instill fear and suspicion into communities already traumatized by economic hardship and family breakdown.It also conveniently obscures the fact that elite involvement in child abduction and murder in Belgium,Portugal and the US has been nigh impossible to prosecute precisely because the networks involved are at the opposite end of the social scale to the Huntleys and Whitings of this world.

  • George Laird

    Dear Craig

    I have asked via the Number 10 website under FOI, how many of the Cabinet Ministers have been CRB vetted.

    I still haven’t had a reply

    Yours sincerely

    George Laird

    The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

  • kathz

    anticant, I should have named Jimmy Giro and MJ, but I got fed up after a series of attempts to post to this site failed (there were lots of problems with accessing it). I agree that the scheme is barmy and am worried that supposed anti-paedophile measures are being used to justify state surveillance and repression. I further think that current attitudes are geared to producing kneejerk responses; these prevent intelligent and thoughtful debate and research and actually work against the protection of children.

    Again, I would have posted at greater length had the site been working properly (and even now I’m waiting for my comment to vanish as so many have).

    I’m making a final attempt to post this, a long time after I wrote it.

  • kathz

    anticant, I should have named Jimmy Giro and MJ, but I got fed up after a series of attempts to post to this site failed (there were lots of problems with accessing it). I agree that the scheme is barmy and am worried that supposed anti-paedophile measures are being used to justify state surveillance and repression. I further think that current attitudes are geared to producing kneejerk responses; these prevent intelligent and thoughtful debate and research and actually work against the protection of children.

    Again, I would have posted at greater length had the site been working properly (and even now I’m waiting for my comment to vanish as so many have)

    (I have been trying without success to post this for many days)

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