There is an excellent article by Tim Blake on Spiked
It begins …
After a year-long pilot in Warwickshire, Stockton-on-Tees and parts of Cambridgeshire, the UK Home Office’s sex offender disclosure scheme is set to go nationwide. What this means is that parents will be able to get information from the police about anyone who has access to their children. In short, they can check whether that person is a threat to their child – that is, whether they are a paeodophile. A kindly neighbour offering sweets, the guy who plays football with the kids at the local park, the woman at the nearby newsagents… it’s official: all can now be legitimately viewed as potential threats to YOUR children.
For deathly-looking home secretary Alan Johnson the rolling out of the sex offender disclosure scheme was akin to the launch of a new fleet of luxury, ocean-going ships: ‘The UK already has one of the most robust systems in the world for the management of sex offenders’, he announced yesterday, with barely concealed pride. ‘We’ve already seen that children are better protected and sex offenders more effectively managed because of this scheme, which is why it is rolling out nationwide.’
Yet despite the rhetorical appeal to ‘protection’ or ‘safety’, these kinds of measures do not reassure people. In fact, they do precisely the opposite: they encourage fear and foster suspicion. They suggest that if people aren’t worried about the lolly-pop man, or the neighbour offering to run the kids to school, they ought to be. To not fear, to not suspect other adults, is subtly transformed from being a recognition of commonality and basic human solidarity into an abrogation of parental responsibility.
Not that we should be surprised by the Home Office’s willingness to inculcate and institutionalise fear and suspicion. The paedophile panic, right from its emergence in its current form during the 1980s, was always an elite panic, a hysteria endorsed and exacerbated by – in no particular order – government officials, police officers, social workers, left-wing activists, children’s charities and both the broadsheet and tabloid press. The obsession with child sex abuse was not, as we are sometimes led to believe, a popular phenomenon: it did not arise in the depths of the social world, it trickled down from the top.
After all, as Brendan O’Neill wrote four years ago, it wasn’t the mob who, in the 1980s, rounded up adults in Cleveland, believing them to be practising ritual Satanic abuse of children. That was the act of social workers. And it wasn’t a paedo-suspecting mass who spent time churning out verbiage on the supposed existence of Satanic and witchcraft sects. That was the work of Marxism Today.
During the 1990s the same pattern of elite-sponsored fear and the subsequent issuing of false accusations was all too apparent. And again, it wasn’t local communities coming together to unmask the paedophiles at nearby children’s homes, such as Bryn Estyn in North Wales – it was an unholy alliance of purpose-seekers, from the police to left-leaning journalists. Dave Jones, then the manager of Southampton Football Club, was only the most famous casualty of these witch-hunts; the lives of many more innocent, well-intentioned care workers were also tainted with the nasty, grubby suspicions of officials and journalists. (more)