Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Government to Think Again Over ISA

While the Detective Chief Superintent, Chris Stevenson, responsible for the Soham investigation says expanded ISA powers as going to far and called for a return "back on an even keel" the Government position softened. Possibly unlike Tom Harris MP they listened to public opinion from more than just parents, people like the NSPCC, senior Police Officers acting and retired.

Retired Mr Stevenson said:

"The furore that 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"

He recalled the tale of he a retired former police office was ordered to delete pictures of his own Grandson from his camera after taking pictures playing in the village team. One of the team managers said he would need the permission of every child present to be able to keep them. he said:

"I felt humbled. I am now a suspected paedophile. Along, I suspect, with millions of other parents and grandparents."

Being from a sporting family a quick look through our family album shows all manner of pictures of me and my brother in sporting settings. Vivid images of past triumphs and defeats which the current generation of children will not have to look back on when their muscles give way and (as in the case of my brother) middle age spread sets in.

Mr Stevenson though does have a stern word for those who use Soham as a reason for such over regulation, like Tom Harris and Ged Robinson (who debated with Mark Thompson). He pointed out:

"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.

"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.

"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."

Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of the NSPCC, speaking on the Government's rethinking of its strategy said last night:

"Ed Balls has made the right decision to check the vetting and barring scheme to ensure it strikes the right balance.

"People want to make sure children are protected but need to understand fully and buy into any major new plan that helps to do so. This review and improved information about how it works will hopefully allay confusion and misunderstandings about what the scheme is meant to do and lead to its successful introduction."

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