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Act in haste, repent at leisure

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Ian Huntley has been convicted of the murder of the two children that, he admitted, had died in his home – and who’s bodies he also admitted trying to dispose of. It’s a horrible case, although everyone should at this point be reminded that 80% of child murders are carrried out by members of their own family.
But already, there are calls for changes in the way that adults are screened when applying for work with children. Huntley, as has now been revealed, had been previously accused of having sex with a minor, plus three seperate accusations of rape. Unsurprisingly, the headmaster of the school where Huntley worked believes there has to be a change in the way applicants are screened in order to prevent this happening again. Never one to fail to jump on a populist bandwagon, Home Secretary David Blunkett has already ordered an enquiry”.
And yet Blunkett will already know that there is no chance of preventing people like Huntley. who have never been been convicted of an offence, from getting a job with children. Any such law would immediately be challenged on the basis that it contravenes article 6 of the European Human Rights convention, where it states that “in the determination of his civil rights and obligations… everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing.” The implication is clear: you cannot deprive someone of a civil right without a trial or hearing, and depriving someone of the possibility of employment on the basis of nothing more than an allegation against them would clearly violate this.

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  • Jo Young


    While IH was NOT found guilty of any criminal offence prior to his conviction, he WAS formally cautioned by the Police in his county on two separate occasions (a caution being, of course, an entirely different thing to an ‘allegation’ as any policeman fule no). Certain workers, such as solicitors, police officers, teachers and those working around children are obliged to disclose CAUTIONS as well as convictions. IH was employed at a council controlled state school. All UK councils demand that any employees who come into contact with children be required to declare any convictions, spent or otherwise, and any instances in which they have been ‘cautioned in relation to an apparent criminal offence’. On this basis, IH should have been subject to a police check when applying for his job. Indeed, a senior member of the Met admitted shortly after IH’s conviction that they do run checks on school employees as a matter of course, but that due to pressures on time and resources, many ‘low priority’ workers, such as caretakers, can go uninvestigated for several years.

    So in fact, in this instance, it seems that perhaps there was a fuck up and that what you refer to was not merely the rantings of the tabloid right wing, but a genuine – if badly expressed – concern over the failure of a system designed to offer fair protection to the vulnerable and those who work with them, while simultaneously ensuring the civil liberties of the rest of the UK workforce.

    Still, it’s nice to see a Dennis Publishing flunky taking such an interest in the finer details of employment law…

  • jeed