BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 15:01 GMT
Do we need a 'Sarah's Law'?
Portsmouth residents protest over paedophiles
Portsmouth residents protest over paedophiles
The conviction of Roy Whiting for the murder of Sarah Payne has raised the issue of whether the UK needs a "Sarah's Law," where parents would be told if a convicted paedophile was living in their area.

Click on the names to find out what those for and against the law think.

  • Michelle Elliot: Kidscape
  • Harry Fletcher: Probation Officers
  • Stuart Kuttner: News of the World
  • Richard Garside: Nacro


    Michelle Elliott is director of the charity Kidscape which is committed to keeping children safe from harm or abuse.

    She believes a Sarah's Law would work for the most dangerous paedophiles.

    "I think for predatory serial paedophiles it's vital that the community knows where they are.


    I don't think any serial dangerous paedophile should ever be allowed to live in a community with children

    Michelle Elliott
    Kidscape
    However she said such a law could not work for all paedophiles.

    "I think it is impractical and probably impossible with 110,000 convicted child sex offenders to monitor them all.

    "But I think if handled properly it can be done.

    She said the US equivalent of Sarah's Law, Megan's Law, had been shown to work.

    "I don't think any serial dangerous paedophile should ever be allowed to live in a community with children."

    Back to the menu


    Harry Fletcher is assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers (Napo).

    "I understand why victims want a Sarah's law but it wouldn't work."

    He said last year's News of the World campaign to name and shame paedophiles had had three detrimental effects.


    They are most likely to run away if they are publicly named

    Harry Fletcher
    Napo
    "Sex offenders were lost because they went underground. Third parties were abused because they looked like the photographs of sex offenders.

    "And it raised the temperature and led to violence."

    "We are talking about a very small number of very devious and very determined people.

    "They are most likely to run away if they are publicly named."

    He said the key was not to drive them away.

    "The way forward is to impose an adequate form of control on their behaviour but the government has got to resource it properly.

    Back to the menu


    Stuart Kuttner, managing editor of the News of the World, which last year ran a campaign to name and shame paedophiles, defended the paper's actions.

    "It stimulated the most enormous public debate," he said.

    "We, the News of the World, along with a very courageous, very determined Sara and Michael Payne have achieved something like seven-eighths of the requirements, of the demands of Sarah's Law."

    Stuart Kuttner
    Kuttner: Paedophiles already underground
    He dismissed the argument that Sarah's Law would drive known sex offenders underground.

    "We have researched this very extensively," he said. "It is a myth that seems to linger in the air.

    "These people are already underground."

    "Sarah's Law calls for the right of all parents who would wish to know if living close by was a Roy Whiting and that information should be made available."

    Back to the menu


    Richard Garside is a spokesman for Nacro, the crime reduction charity.

    He believes it is understandable that parents want to know if a paedophile is living in their area.

    "But no-one has put together a creditable argument that if Sarah's Law had been in place, Roy Whiting wouldn't have abducted Sarah.

    "But there is some evidence that if there had been a law, he wouldn't have been at his present address and the police wouldn't have known where to get him.

    'Not serious proposal'

    Mr Garside said Sarah's law would put unfair demands on parents.

    "How would you ask parents to make a distinction between the really quite dangerous one and people who don't really pose a risk to their children."

    "It places a responsibility on parents without giving them any power to do anything."


    It places a responsibility on parents without giving them any power to do anything

    Richard Garside
    Nacro
    "We can't see this as a really serious proposal."

    Mr Garside said that although Megan's Law had been in existence for a number of years in the US, there had been very few valuations of its effect.

    "It has been very costly for police to manage the system.

    "And in California since the introduction of Megan's Law, paedophile offences have risen not fallen."

    Nacro has been calling for the introduction of reviewable sentences where offenders would be detained until it was felt they were safe to be released.

    "The most important thing is that dangerous people shouldn't be able to offend again.

    Back to the menu


  • Full coverage of the trial

    The verdict

    Catching a murderer

    Protecting children

    TALKING POINT

    AUDIO VIDEO
    Internet links:


    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


    E-mail this story to a friend

    Links to more UK stories

    © BBC ^^ Back to top

    News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
    South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
    Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
    Programmes