First off, I am a father of two children, and the thought of anything happening to them brings me out in a cold sweat and gives me sleepless nights. The idea of any pervert getting their hands on them frightened me, and if anyone did do anything, I would probably commit some offences of my own!
For some time, a tabloid newspaper , I suspect in search of sensationalist headlines, has been campaigning for something it calls 'Sarah's Law' after the assault and death of Sarah Payne six years ago and modeled on 'Megan's Law' in America.
Now I don't know how it works in the US, but from what the paper has said should happen would, I believe, lead to vigilantism and the driving of these people under-ground. Sure, those charged with protecting society should be fully aware of these people and where they are and what they are doing, but the rest of us? Do I really want to know that someone round the corner has a conviction for child abuse? If I did know, how would that effect the way I live, and how I parent my children? Would I want to do something about it? I honestly don't have an answer, but what I do know is that we shouldn't, at the whim of newspaper sales, destroy a cornerstone of British justice quickly and without sensible thought.
Moreover, the police are not happy with the way the debate in this country is going. Chief Constable Terry Grange told BBC News he was extremely concerned the Home Office had "surrendered" power over [child abuse] policy to the News of the World [newspaper].
When viewed emotionally, Sarah's (Megan's) Law would seem to be the answer, but intellectually, I feel it would be taking the wrong road. Child abuse and murder is an horrendous crime, and needs to be dealt with carefully, and with wisdom, not headlines.
Six years ago, the tabloid press, by 'outing' paedophiles, caused some of the worst scenes of vigilantism this country has seen in a centuary, and brought about the deaths of two people who had been mistakenly identified.
Finally, 90% of child abuse is perpetrated by someone the child knows, and is often a relative!