» Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Paedophiles and News of the World

Asked whether the Prime Minister shared the views of Chief Constable Terry Granger that the News of the World was blackmailing the government on the issue of paedophiles, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said everyone needed to recognise that there was a balance to be struck between what was a genuine ongoing concern in many local communities around the country and the need to give the public information which reassured them whilst avoiding vigilantism. This was the essential balance. The Home Secretary had announced two perfectly sensible things. One, that paedophiles would not be housed in hostels near schools. Two, that Gerry Sutcliffe would travel to the US to study 10 years worth of experience of Megan’s Law. Both of these were important and were not something we were rushing into. We were taking our time to study whether we could do more to get that balance right. This was a responsible thing for a government to do given that it was a subject of genuine concern in communities.

Put that it was not reassuring to know where paedophiles were but that it was alarming, the PMOS said that equally there were alarming rumours about people living within communities that turned out not to be true. There was a balance to be struck. It was right that the government took its time and studied the issue.

Asked how the balance might be struck, the PMOS said that this was not an issue that was not unique to this country or the US. There were different approaches to this in Europe also. It was important that we looked at how we had handled it in this country, how it was handled in the United States and how it was handled in Europe so that we could draw the right conclusions.

Asked whether ministers meet representatives of News international, the PMOS said that there was nothing wrong with meeting representatives of the press. Indeed it was not unusual for the Prime Minister to meet with the members of the lobby in attendance. No one was underestimating the complexity of this issue. That was why Gerry Sutcliffe was carrying out his review and travelling to the US. However, the complexity of the issue should not be a reason for dismissing the genuine concern in communities. That concern was very real. Anybody who was in touch with his or her local communities knew this. You could not simply say we had taken a stand on that so nothing would change. You had to continue to review what was possible and the experiences elsewhere and come to sensible conclusions. Nobody wanted to create an excuse for vigilantism and nobody wanted to drive the problem underground. The question being asked was whether there was more that could be done to reassure the public. Asked when the Home Office would complete the review, the PMOS said that it was normal to look at the facts first and then establish a timetable.

Asked when there had been a public outcry, the PMOS said that the good thing about politicians was that they were elected by their constituents, whom they regularly went back to and talked to. If people looked at the grass roots level they would not have to dig very deep to find genuine concern about this issue. The government had always recognised that concern, nor was this an excuse to ignore the complexity of the issue, but it was a reason why the government continued to look at it.

Put that Chief Constable Granger’s criticism had been that it had been announced through the media in response to a News of the World campaign, the PMOS said that he was not aware of a law that said it was wrong to reply to a media organisation’s questions. In fact this briefing was responding to many media organisation’s questions. If the facts of the matter remained that there was a genuine public concern, which there was, then it was perfectly legitimate for the government to take a measured review of the experience elsewhere. This was a sensible thing to do. Put by the Daily Telegraph that it had not been aware of the public concern till the News of the World report, the PMOS said that if people looked at local newspapers up and down the country it was an on going issue. Politicians were elected to reflect the concerns of their electorate, which they did. Yesterday the accusation was that nothing was being done. Today the accusation was that we were doing too much. Somewhere in between was the root truth, which was that there was an issue of genuine concern and the government was taking a measured review of the evidence to see if there was any other way to strike the right balance.

Put that today’s accusation was that government was not doing the right thing with school vetting, the PMOS asked what was it that had discovered that there were still issues to be addressed, answer – a report commissioned by the government, which found out what was and was not being done correctly. There would be a follow-up report to ensure that what we had spoken about today was being implemented. That was how government should work. The report concluded that school vetting had been implemented but the concern was that records were not being kept. We were now saying records had to be kept. There would be a follow up Ofsted report to make sure that happened. This showed that government worked; as would the Sutcliffe review as it sought to find a right way to strike the balance.

Asked why it had been announced in the News of the World and not parliament, the PMOS noted the rival publications desire to ban all communication with the News of the World but it was not something he could promise the government would deliver. The PMOS suggested that the News of the World, last time he had looked, was a legal organisation and therefore one that it was more than acceptable for the government to speak to. The News of the World had legitimately raised this issue in the past and therefore it was perfectly legitimate for the government to respond to inquiries from that newspaper. Asked why the government had pleaded with the News of the World to stop its original name and shame campaign, the PMOS said that what we had said then was still what we said now, which was that this was an issue of legitimate public concern and it was right and proper that the government tried to strike a balance. This was what it was doing.

Put that Chief Constable Granger’s criticism had in fact been that it was policy making on the hoof, the PMOS suggested that if we had said that we were going to introduce Megan’s law today that would have been policy making on the hoof. The fact was that we were saying that Gerry Sutcliffe was going to go to the United States to look at the 10 years of experience of Megan’s law there. That was a considered approach. It was legitimate for government to acknowledge when there were genuine problems and then take the time to see how to address them. This was what it was doing. Asked by the BBC when the Prime Minister last met someone from News of the World, the PMOS said that he did not get into detailing meetings with specific media organisations any more that he would give out details of meetings with the BBC. Downing Street met members of the media all the time, including members of the BBC.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Search for related news


  1. I would love for all paedophilles to be shown online and in local papers. If this had happened years ago I would of been able to keep my daughter (who was 8 at the time) safe from the beast who tied her up and raped her and her friend. This beast had already had convictions for beasting children, prior to attacking my child.

    Comment by Susan Meek — 23 Jul 2006 on 5:24 pm | Link
  2. please look at this site, and sign up to it.

    Comment by Susan Meek — 23 Jul 2006 on 6:24 pm | Link
  3. Its Just getting worse anothe 13 on top of the 322 missing Sex offenders
    Police lose track of 13 sex offendersFeb 21 2007


    POLICE have lost track of 13 registered sex offenders in Wales, the Home Office said today.

    Home Office figures obtained by the Welsh Conservatives showed that police had lost track of five offenders in both the North Wales and South Wales force areas, two in Dyfed Powys and one in Gwent, at the end of last month.

    The statistics were provided in response to a Parliamentary question from Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan MP.

    Last month it was disclosed that 322 such offenders had gone missing across the United Kingdom.

    Ms Gillan said: \x93This is a matter of serious public concern and every effort must be made to locate these individuals as quickly as possible.

    \x93The people of Wales are being put at an unacceptable risk by the failure to keep track of these serious offenders.

    \x93News such as this will only serve to further undermine the public\x92s confidence in the criminal justice system, the Home Office, and the Government\x92s failure to monitor and manage dangerous criminals.\x94

    WE NEED TO RAISE AWARENESS <a href="http://www.saferkidz.co.uk/">http://www.saferkidz.co.uk/</a&gt;

    Comment by Kenny pem — 22 Feb 2007 on 12:20 pm | Link
  4. Can we help with the SaferkIDZ SYSTE WE ARE USING HERE IN THE USA? (www.saferkidz.net) It’s all web based, if we can find a rock solid seccure place to host the data we could bring it online for the UK.

    Any thoughts?

    LAwrence Schrank CEO
    SaferKidz LLC

    Comment by Lawrence Schrank — 26 Feb 2007 on 5:19 am | Link

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Post a public comment

(You must give an email address, but it will not be displayed to the public.)
(You may give your website, and it will be displayed to the public.)


This is not a way of contacting the Prime Minister. If you would like to contact the Prime Minister, go to the 10 Downing Street official site.

Privacy note: Shortly after posting, your name and comment will be displayed on the site. This means that people searching for your name on the Internet will be able to find and read your comment.

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


June 2006
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« May   Jul »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh