Rules which bar sex offenders from working with children are ‘unfair’ and even convicted paedophiles should have the right to adopt, a leading legal academic has said.
By Rosa Prince
Helen Reece, a reader in law at the London School of Economics, called on Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to relax rules which automatically ban sex offenders from caring for children, saying that this could breach their human rights.
In an article in the respected Child and Family Law Quarterly, Miss Reece suggested that reoffending rates were not high among sex criminals, adding: “despite growing public concern over paedophilia, the numbers of child sex murders are very low.”
A review is currently ongoing into the Vetting and Barring Scheme, introduced following the 2002 Soham murders, amid concerns by ministers that it is too heavy handed.
As well as banning certain offenders, the law currently requires adults coming into regular contact with children other than their own to be screened.
Mrs May ordered the review amid concerns about the vetting of ordinary volunteers such as parents who drive children to football practice and church flower arrangers.
In her article, Miss Reece suggested that the review should also introduce an assumption that sex offenders including child abusers posed no threat once they had served their sentence.
She said: “There is no reason why all sex offenders should not be considered as potentially suitable to adopt or foster children, or work with them.
“The Vetting and Barring Scheme and other legislative measures single out sex offenders for unfair special treatment and they destroy the principle that a prisoner pays his or her debt by serving their sentence before re-entering society on equal terms.”
Pedophiles should be branded or castrated.