BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Valerie Jones
"The News of the World is claiming victory for its campaign"
 real 56k

The BBC's Karen Allen
"The onus would remain on police to inform communities"
 real 28k

Laura Ahern, Parents for Megan's Law
"An issue that has been traditionally shrouded in mystery"
 real 28k

Home Office Minister, Paul Boeteng
"There must be and can only be controlled access"
 real 28k

Saturday, 5 August, 2000, 03:40 GMT 04:40 UK
Government to look at 'Sarah's Law'
News of the World
The News of the World campaigns for 'Sarah's Law'
The government has said it will seriously consider calls for new laws to protect children from known paedophiles, following a press campaign for "Sarah's Law".

The announcement followed the decision by the News of the World newspaper to end its "name and shame" policy of publishing the photographs and locations of convicted child sex offenders.

After the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne, the paper had argued that every parent should have the right to know if a paedophile was living nearby.

I believe the introduction of Sarah's Law is now inevitable

Rebekah Wade Editor, News of the World
But warnings from child organisations and the police that the campaign would only drive such offenders underground were initially ignored by the newspaper.

'Tremendous victory'

On Friday a compromise for the future of the campaign was agreed by the News of the World and the principal agencies involved in child protection.

In what has been described as a "climbdown" by other newspapers, editor Rebekah Wade said: "This is a tremendous victory for every parent and every child in the country.

"As a result of our 'naming and shaming' campaign I believe the introduction of 'Sarah's Law' is now inevitable," she added.

Home Office Minister Paul Boateng
Paul Boateng assures government response
In response, Home Office Minister Paul Boateng said: "The 'Sarah's Law' campaign proposals make an important contribution to the debate and demand very serious consideration.

"This the government will do urgently."

Ms Wade has vowed to name and shame any politician who impedes her newspaper's crusade for tougher laws against paedophiles.

Controlled access

The paper decided to concentrate on changing the law to win parents controlled access to information about paedophiles in their area.

I wouldn't want to see the details of a father who had abused his children in the public domain

Mike Haimes

But concern is already being expressed over the way in which such information could be made public.

The former head of Scotland Yard's Obscene Publications Branch, Mike Haimes, told BBC Radio 5 Live that the idea was fraught with difficulties.

"These people offer all sorts of different levels of risk," he said.

"I wouldn't want to see, for example, the details of a father who had abused his children in the public domain.

"Because all that is going to happen is that the children will then be picked on by their friends...they will be re-victimised."

'Long overdue'

However Sarah's parents, Sara and Michael Payne, said they supported the newspaper's decision and want the government to take action in light of the paper's move.

The bereaved couple will visit the News of the World offices on Saturday to show their support for its campaign.

Sara and Michael Payne
Sara and Michael Payne support the newspaper's decision
The Paynes said the proposed 'Sarah's Law' would "give back power to parents to enable them to protect their children".

They added: "This debate was long overdue and we look forward to hearing the home secretary's response to this decision."

Representatives of the police, the probation service and charities who had condemned the News of the World's campaign welcomed the news that the naming and shaming drive had ended.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
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