Theresa May, the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom has been called out by Helen Reece, a reader in law at the London School of Economics to relax the rules which automatically ban s*x offenders from adopting children, saying that this could breach their human rights.
Reece suggested that reoffending rates were not very high among s*x offenders in an article for Child and Family Law Quarterly, and she added that “despite growing public concern over pedophilia, the numbers of child s*x deaths are very low”.
The current law required adults coming into regular contact with children other than their own to be screened, and certain offenders are banned.
Reece suggested that an assumption that s*x offenders, including child abusers, posed no threat once they had served their sentence should be reviewed.
“There is no reason why all s*x 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 s*x 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.” – she said in her article.
If an individual has been convicted of a s*xual or violent offense, or one involving the mistreatment of a child, then he/she will be banned from working with youngsters or vulnerable adults and will be placed on the “Barred List”.
Miss Reece said that all s*x offenders should not be “tarred with the same brush”, and the issuing of a “blanket ban” violated the rights of criminals who wanted to adopt or work with young people.
She gave the case of a grandfather with a conviction for having intercourse with a 15-year-old dating back to when he was 29, and was later refused permission to adopt his own grandchildren as an example.
She also warned that the ban could contravene the principle of non-discrimination enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.
“Rather than presuming that everyone is a potential risk to children and must, therefore, be vetted, any vetting or barring should be based on very strong evidence that they are a risk,” – she said.
Miss Reece, who has been at the LSE since September 2009 and has previously worked at the University of London, University College London, and Birkbeck College, also argued that r*pe victims should no longer be granted anonymity.
A spokesman from the Home Office said that ‘the vetting review will not be considering allowing pedophiles to adopt, as it is very much focused on seeing whether the rules have gone too far in stopping normal volunteering with children, while continuing to carry out criminal records checks on people in sensitive posts, such as in the NHS.’