Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Friday, 9 October 2009


We have all been truly shocked by the child abuse scandal centring on the nursery in Plymouth. The fact that it involved two women, the fact that it happened here, the fact that it happened at all. Most of us are baffled that anybody can derive pleasure from such warped activity, but it is a further example of the limitless capacity of the human spirit for depravity. We have to accept that human beings seem capable of anything. The challenge for policy makers is: what are we going to do about it to better protect children?

I am not talking about knee jerk reactions that make us feel we are doing something, but measures that actually work. In truth, the measures introduced after the appalling atrocities at Dunblane, where several children were shot dead, came within this category. Restricting access to firearms for legitimate owners, including sportspeople, looked like tough action, but what did it do to restrict the supply of weapons on the black market to those who intend harm? I doubt if it has saved a single life, but (and I was a member of the government at the time) it made us feel better and made us look decisive. That should not be the test.

We already have draconian CRB checks on all those working with children. Already I was feeling that these CRB records have gone too far. I have several constituency cases at the moment where the police have recorded information that is little more than hearsay on people’s files and it is impacting innocent lives unjustly. Now we have a new form of registration affecting people who just regularly give children a lift in a car. There is talk of banning nursery workers from taking mobile phones with cameras into their place of work. We are in danger of falling into the Dunblane trap. If deceitful, dark-hearted, people are minded to carry out their perverted activities on vulnerable children, it is unlikely that bureaucratic regulations will make much difference.

The Internet is a large part of the problem. Greater efforts must be made to somehow discover and report when this incredible invention is being used for harmful purposes. More research is required on a technical solution to this. But even if such a thing were possible it all brings 1984 a step closer. So once again I seek your views. What in reality can we do to make children safer?


posted by Gary @ 14:10