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back to article Think tank slams paedophile paranoia culture

An independent think tank has today blamed the government's increasing reliance on "anti-paedophile" criminal record checks for making UK adults scared to have any contact with other people's children. Civitas' report Licensed to Hug claims the checks have driven suspiscion of all adults, which has led in turn to a breakdown of …

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The Only Thing to Fear Is Fear. And Peedo Charges. And Aliens. And...

@ Mike Taylor: "I have never met anyone who wouldn't help a lost child "for fear of being branded a paedo", but I've met a lot of people who think this is a common fear."

I've been in this position last year. I looked out of my living room window, and saw a young child (nappy-age) wandering up the street unaccompanied. I ran out the house, and, halfway to the child realised what a compromising position I was putting myself in - I would be in the street with a young child that wasn't mine, away from his parents, without their knowledge or consent. Kidnapping / Peeedoo charges, anyone? As it happened, I "shepherded" him back down the street from the direction whence he came, without touching him in any way (keeping an obvious 3-foot+ distance at all times) hoping like hell that I'd meet his parents. As it happened, I did. (Or at least, I *HOPE* that it was his mother...)

It is a real fear.

I also to help instruct martial arts, I made a very, very firm rule long ago that I will not teach anyone under the age of 18. No f*cking way. It's a real shame, because I started training at 11, and I think martial arts are great for kids, but there ain't no way I'm gonna show a 12yo how to grapple!!!

(PS "oop north" argument? Pah. I'm from Canada, you Tykes are all southerners to me!!)

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Britain is no longer a society - just a place where people live

I left the UK in 2001. I can't see myself living here ever again, unless it's in a remote part of Scotland (although I'd make sure I didn't take photos of the sheep incase I was reported for being a flossiephile).

@Mike Crawshaw - I learned martial arts at 14; I went through a rough patch at that age getting mugged/beaten up every other week. I was an easy target, small, very skinny etc. Martial arts not only taught me how to defend myself - but gave me a lot of self-confidence. I stopped being a victim mostly cos I stopped thinking and acting like a victim. I still had a few scraps, but at least I gave a good account of myself.

I even went onto become an instructor. I was always reluctant to teach anyone under 12, but did on occasion. Not because of the thought of being branded a kiddie-fiddler (their mums were usually in the class as well), but because they weren't mature enough for the rather demanding stuff I taught.

Now, I wouldn't teach anyone under 16. No way. Which is a real shame, but that's the way it is now.

Britain really is so morally clueless it's on the whole just become a place to live, not a society anymore.I remember the 70s. My early years were spent on a Council housing estate. People genuinely looked out for each other. There was a strong sense of "community", with the Police and the local "council" seen as forces for good . When kids got up to mischief, the local battle-axes would be round to their mothers' doors with the kids by the scruff of their necks. The kids would then be frog-marched back to the scene of the crime (i.e kicking stones onto the path or other high crime) and didn't leave until things were back in order.

Now, the same council estate looks like a prison. The 60s hippy-styled "no gates/fences/we're all equal neighbours" theme is gone. 8 ft spikey-topped fences surround the estate. CCTV cameras on 20ft baffled poles all over the place. I know some retired cops - and they lay the blame squarely on the social workers of the late 70s and 80s, who basically taught 2 generations of fuckwits they had "rights" to this,that and the other - and actively encouraged the concept they had no "responsibilities" to go along with those "rights". Maybe the destruction of all the local heavy industries caused it. Personally, I reckon it was all the wartime battle-axes dying off. Even the cops wouldn't go near a granny on a rampage with a broom back then!

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CRB checks

There seem to be a lot of assumptions about what CRB checks entail.

Unless it has changed drastically in the last 2 years, there are 2 levels: Standard and Enhanced.

The standard CRB check shows all "unspent" convictions since either 16 or 18 (I can't remember which). This UNSPENT (so still running) CONVICTIONS. A conviction is basically anything a court has found you guilty of (whether magistrates, crown etc), and the punishment could have been anything from a fine to a spell at her majesty's leisure.

The Enhanced CRB check shows EVERYTHING from the age of 16. This includes Cautions, convictions, fines etc, whether spent or unspent. Spent means you have done your time/paid the fine/completed your community service etc and a suitable time has passed without reoffending.

I know this as I have had both a standard CRB to work at BT (2 years ago), and an Enhanced CRB to work on a secure Psychiatric unit (about 6 years ago). I have a copy still somewhere of the Enhanced one, as it was asked about in my interview (I have a caution for contravening some maritime law or other which was basically getting lost while exploring Dover Docks and being nicked presumed an illegal immigrant, and the panel was curious as to what exactly I had done to get that caution).

I don't particularly think the CRB is a problem, it is all the additional legislation being brought in. One of the first comments regarding believing HM Gov. was heading towards a policy of no relationships without prior approval etc etc is, in fact, where we are headed. With or without pre-meditation, this is the world we are spiralling towards faster and faster. Assuming we don't destroy ourselves first...

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@Mike Taylor

I disagree, all the CRB tells you is that the person hasn't been charged, and whether or not those charges led to a court case and the outcome. It is no gurantee that the person checked isn't a risk in any form. The state of the criminal records in this country is still woeful, with people convicted under false names still undetected etc.

The very fact that the vast majority of cases of child sex crimes are committed by family members and people living within the family unit just goes to show that all these checks are simply the government trying to be seen to be doing its bit.

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WCCITLCNXXXGRATCGGUDSCLAFTLNXXXSPARAGEERDDPDCIFRWVTRIUITIHMWBGADCPDSDLITD

LMAO - I'll try and remember that ...

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RE:Government without ethics

"The problem is, 99.9% of the population are not criminals, nor are they pedos."

According to the numbers above, it's 99.5% of the population are not pedos...but point taken.

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@TrishaD

"Should convicted fraudsters be allowed to work in the finance industry?"

As opposed to all the unconvicted fraudsters who are doing so right now? To be quite honest, I don't think it really makes the slightest difference. The unconvicted ones are both more dangerous (because smarter) and more numerous.

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@ Louis

Sorry Louis, but the description you've given for the enhanced CRB check (which is soon to overtake the basic check in terms of numbers done) isn't quite complete. The enhanced check also includes any intelligence the police officer (just one officer, no cross checks) who supplies info from the police side to the CRB for each check deems to be relevant. This can (and usually does) include arrests that resulted in no charge, allegations that didn't result in arrest, and even just "intellegence" without the need to even give sources. And while the Police will say that it is up to the employer to decide whether to use that info in deciding to give you a job, what employer will "take the chance"?

Another interesting fact - If you apply for a job (of whatever nature, including voluntary) with the Police, they skip that nasty semi-independent CRB and do their own checks.

An even more interesting fact - If you apply to be an independent custody visitor, someone who is meant to keep an independent eye on how people are treated in custody (including innocent people who may be under arrest) and how the Police process them, guess who does the vetting? Thats right, its the Police themselves! Kinda removes the "independent" part.

If a malicious allegation is made against you, one of the first things Police officers will do is check for previous allegations before deciding whether to arrest you. Yes, that means that if you've been wrongfully arrested before, it makes you MORE likely to be wrongfully arrested again in the future!

The answer to all of this is simple : If you are not convicted of a crime, all data on you and the allegation should be removed from PNC shortly after the investigation is complete.

This state of affairs arose from the Soham murders. While tragic, and while there is a small possibility such a tradgedy could occur again, innocent peoples lives are being ruined right now. And not just a few, but a lot. Every year.

Although many are happy with it, a lot of cops aren't, but they can't speak out. I left the force because of issues like this (and unfortunately many other abuses of human rights due to the current way the law is policed), so I can speak out now.

Oh, and I do (and have) helped out when I've seen someone in trouble, even though I am afraid of allegations, I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't, and I would encourage everyone else to do so. Otherwise you let "them" win.

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Damn right !!

We should start sending these kiddies up the chimney or down the mines again !! Pesky little beggars !!

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Teenage Male POV

I'm 19 (but not for much longer) so am likely younger than the majority of posters on here.

I remember when I was at school more than one of my female teachers gave a hug if I was upset or feeling down. And I'm really pleased that they did because a hug was really all that I needed - just comforted me and made me feel appreciated at that time.

I also remember on my Commemoration Day (our school makes a big deal of it with students arriving in a limo etc and it marks the end of lessons in year 11. You still have to go back for exams though) a couple of my teachers exchanged a peck on the cheek with me - the teachers I'd grown close to over the years - whilst wishing me all the best with my life.

How many people see something wrong in the above? I certainly don't.

Had my teachers been any different maybe I wouldn't have been given a hug when I needed it and possibly would've been left to be upset on my own.

I don't care where you come from, having a child upset/unhappy when they could so easily be made happy isn't really right.

Most people have a good heart and wouldn't purposefully do anything to harm someone else. Sure a minority would, but I trusted my teachers and they obviously trusted me to not run off and make stuff up etc

People need to learn to stop treating everyone with suspicion and learn to get on more with others. I live in the Coventry area and am used to getting random nutters on the bus or train talking to me. When I was in London on the Tube the silence spooked me! We're all only human (except amanfrommars) so why can't we all make the effort to get on?

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re: Re: Re: Re: @ Re: @ Sarah Bee

I think you're getting close to the new record.

Anyway, here in the states they have been doing checks similar to these for years and they still haven't stopped the problems. Seems like every day you hear about a new teacher, priest, politician or somebody with their hands where they didn't belong. When a co-worker and I were both soccer coaches many years ago the local org decided they had to follow some new protocol and we both ended up quitting since the form wanted enough information for anyone to steal your identity with it. Local org was less than understanding when i finally filled one in with a 3 page letter attached telling them what they were and weren't allowed to do with the information and what their liability would be if it ever got in the wrong hands. Needless to say, I was summarily banned from coaching (and I'm proud to say continued to coach my own daughters and others and even ref a few games in between). I haven't much use for stupid bureaucracy (and no, am not; nor have ever been a kiddy-fiddler).

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Sorry, Mike Taylor...

...but you sound just like one of those complacent New Labour apparatchiks who manage to ignore the evidence of anything going sour in this country by pretending that all those who cry "pc gone mad" are making it up - or just Daily Mail readers.

There is a checkable story in the comments further up that suggests very clearly that a child may have died because of fears about being labelled.

John Ozimek, who writes for the Reg, also runs a blog.

He seems to have run into just the sort of sun cream problem you pretend does not exist: http://audela-reciprocity.blogspot.com/2008/05/protecting-children.html

Or maybe HE is making it up.

As for me...I am afraid I definitely remember listening to an interview on Radio 4 not so long ago in which a coast guard - no less - stated how up-set she was about not being able to go to the aid of a lost child because the child had been so thoroughly indoctrinated in the "stranger danger" mantra that she turned hysterical whenever approached.

Basically, a balancing act and grown-up risk assessment is needed. And personally, I am sick to death of sanctimonious child protection experts (does that include you?) who claim there is no problem whatsoever and its all a myth.

It clearly isn't. What we don't exactly know is how many are being "saved" by the current hysteria and how many are being lost by it. That WOULD be an interesting project.

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@ PC gone mad

I had a friend, an older single female, with a similar experience except for the camera/phone. Her car was repeatably vandalised, her front door (council property) was set on fire and, of course she was threatened. She could identify the vandals. The police land ocal authority would not do anything for her and she coninued to live in fear.

She's a fighter and she took the police and local authority to court. Unfortunately we lost contact as she moved house eventually (no thanks to the local authority) so I do not know the outcome but I doubt she had any success.

To those doubters, I say believe. I now live next door to a very antisocial family, well known to the police. They blight our lives (not only ours) but I have been warned that if I record their 'antisocial behaviour' I will be the one at fault.

AC for obvious reasons, but I know that of course that my comment is not really anonymous.

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By Tim Spence

I too, as an older father, experienced the adverse reaction when I regularly accompanied my then young daughter to school and to her other activities. This was at a time when men were being much maligned and castigated in the media in a way that would have been unacceptable if it was the women that were being denigrated in the same manner. It was also early days in the paedophile frenzy.

Notwithstanding that I have always been a very active parent to my four children, I became paranoid and completely lost my self esteem and my enjoyment in life. To this day, I'm still ill at ease around children and teenagers.

My request is to deal firmly with those adults who do abuse and threaten children but let the rest of us lead a normal and healthy life, untainted and free of suspicion.

Paedophilia is a vile crime but the solution is not to create universal suspects out of everyone. This can only further damage the structure of of an already damaged society. The logic that if only one child is saved by creating such suspicion is false because the wrong action has been taken to safeguard that child.

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V for Vendetta

John Hurt's character is Gordon Brown

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