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Our version of "Megan's Law"

Just over a week ago, John Reid announced he was sending a minister to America to consider a UK version of Megan's law. This headline grabbing tactic, no doubt to 'recapture the agenda', will either come to nothing or have serious implications to the safety of our children.

The law, in response to a campaign by Megan's mother, changed the law to give parents access to information on paedophiles in their area. Fifteen states list offenders' details on the internet, allowing parents to enter their postcode or a name to check if anyone on the register has moved in nearby.

But the law fails to take into account a number of issues. Not only is there a problem about vigilantism, but only 80 per cent of paedophiles comply with registration requirements in America, compared with 97 per cent in Britain. Obviously these two things are related. Not only that, but most cases of child abuse occur within the family, or those known and trusted by the family. And current practice in the UK is that those living in the local community who "need to know", are informed by the authorities that a paedophile is resident in the area.

Whilst I am sure every parent would like to know whether a paedophile is living on their street, it has to be more preferable to have an accurate database of sex offenders known only to the police, than an inaccurate one publically available.

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