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Children to be told of Father's sex crimes from 20 years ago?

(19 Posts)
worraliberty Fri 08-Jul-11 10:39:57

Just watching Matthew Wright and this story came on.

The details are so sketchy but 3 of the country's top Appeal Judges have ruled that Enfield Council should be allowed to tell this couple's young children about their Father's "comparatively minor sex offences", from 20 years ago.

The couple argue that it should be up to them to tell their kids as and when they see fit/think they'll be able to cope...and not because the Council want them to know.

What do you think? I'm not even sure why the Council are insisting on this, it's not normal practice is it? confused

worraliberty Fri 08-Jul-11 10:41:20

Grrrrr....I hit the 'convert link' button but it didn't work angry

squeakytoy Fri 08-Jul-11 10:55:50

Without knowing the offences, or the ages of the children, it is very difficult to comment, but my gut instinct is that the council have no rights to do this, or certainly shouldnt have, unless there is a genuine risk to the children, in which case they should not be with the father anyway.

worraliberty Fri 08-Jul-11 10:58:52

That's what I thought squeaky about the risk thing.

The only consistent thing in the stories is that the kids are of school age and the 20 year old sex crimes are 'compartively minor' whatever that means?

squeakytoy Fri 08-Jul-11 11:02:35

Comparatively minor to me would make me think (also giving time span) that the father possibly had a relationship with an underage girl when he was a teen himself... hardly crime of the century... obviously just guesswork on my part, but that is the only thing I can think of that could be classed as "minor" in anyones view.

worraliberty Fri 08-Jul-11 11:05:41

Or flashing maybe?

Like you say, it's all guess work but I feel uncomfortable at the council telling the just seems a step too far and I can't think of any reason for it.

Hufflepuzzpig Fri 08-Jul-11 11:14:31

I don't know, I'm in two minds about this. Does this also apply to all crimes? Would they know about a burglary for example?

I was abused by my uncle as a child, but I didn't tell until I was 13 and my mum begged me not to prosecute so I didn't. It really feels awful knowing that he may have DCs one day and there's nothing I can do about it. There is no proof.

OTOH, my DH is on one of those list things. I don't actually know which one (if indeed there is more than one?) - basically, when we met I was only 15 and he was a nurse in the hospital I was in. Nothing happened until I was 16, but understandably the hospital took action. He was not arrested, just put on some list and told he couldn't work with children for 10 years, and that was it. It's not affected his life since then (this was in 2002 so not long left anyway) but I have no idea if it stays with him forever. I don't really like the idea of our DCs (or my DSCs - he's got DCs from his first marriage, and I feel compelled to point out they were divorced long before we met!) being told that daddy is a pedophile because mummy was too young for him. Though I guess this doesn't actually count because it was not a criminal case - so I've waffled on for nothing most likely. blush

worraliberty Fri 08-Jul-11 11:27:37

Huffle, so sorry to hear about your Uncle...that must have been just awful, and then for your Mum to beg you not to prosecute sad

I'm not sure what sort of list you you mean because you were a minor and a patient? Some sort of list to do with work rather than a criminal thing?

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Fri 08-Jul-11 11:42:02

It's impossible to comment on this case specifically, because - as squeaky says - we don't know what he actually did!

But generally speaking, I think that if someone has done something that it could be argued makes them a person who may pose a danger to a vulnerable person, then that vulnerable person or a person who is responsible for them, should be made aware so that they can make a choice - to have the person in their life or not, to take precautions or not. To listen to the details and say "so what?" or not. It's about making informed decisions.

When the person who may pose a risk to a vulnerable person is in fact the person who is responsible for them, then how do you safeguard that vulnerable person? Remove them? Or make them aware of the facts and let them make an informed decison? Or let them know of outside support and advice?

Should people generally - not vulnerable people who are associated with the offender, but general family, friends, neighbours etc have the right to know if someone around them is a criminal? Well, on one hand, if you knew that the person who lived next door to you was a serial burglar, for example, you may choose to get a better alarm system. If you know that a family member has abused young children, for example, you may choose to ensure that your own children are not left with them. etc etc. You can make informed decisons. You can risk assess with all the relevent information.

However, this relies on people being reasonable and not pitchfork wielding idiots. Which is a problem, because many people are not reasonable and are only ever a hair's breadth away from grabbing that pitchfork. It also causes a problem for the offender, who may want to change, but people will always treat them as though they are committing offences. So they may never get a second chance. And if people have already condemned you for life, where's your incentive to change?

So I think, on balance, that you should risk assess and give careful consideration to informing vulnerable people and their advocates if it is thought that there may be a risk to them, but other than that, people shouldn't be informed.

Hufflepuzzpig Fri 08-Jul-11 11:47:22

I have no idea, and neither does DH! It's weird, he's had very little contact about it, but it is a national thing as it's the department for education IIRC. But as I said it doesn't affect life now, he went in retail work. Assuming he would not pass a CRB though so he can't do some voluntary work he'd like to do which is a shame.

And yeah, I think in a small way I won't ever forgive my mum for that. Just try not to think about it.

It is one reason I get a bit annoyed about all the red tape, as it's impossible to weed out everyone. My DH was also abused, very very badly (it is ironically why he went into nursing, to help people with depression etc) by his mother, but this was never discovered despite all the broken bones. His mother is now a popular district councillor in his home town angry would be quite good if DH could tell her admiring fans what she did, that he's not worked for nearly a year because of back problems she caused, but what the heck would that achieve when there's no proof.

Hufflepuzzpig Fri 08-Jul-11 11:50:53

Sorry, don't actually mean to sound so negative - life is actually pretty good now, we've both been through some bad times but we are stronger for it smile

worraliberty Fri 08-Jul-11 11:51:49

TMBK I agree with a lot of your points.

It'll be interesting to see the outcome of this.

It still beats me why the council are involved rather than anyone else.

sparks Fri 08-Jul-11 11:53:12

It's impossible for us to say if it's unreasonable or not because we (rightly) don't know what happened 20 years ago, why it has come to light now, the ages of the children or any other details of the case.

I note that this story originates from the Daily Mail, who have an anti-social work agenda.

worraliberty Fri 08-Jul-11 11:53:23

Huffle I'm glad life is better for you both now smile

sparks Fri 08-Jul-11 11:56:58

I assume it's the council because social services are a council department and the social workers are council employees.

OpusProSerenus Fri 08-Jul-11 11:57:34

If the mother is deemed to be a sensible, rational, "good" mother why isn't her judgement on when is the right time accepted. If these children are very young they will not understand what a sex offence is as their understanding of sex will be limited. Also they are more likely to tell their friends, etc so destroying Dad's life, and their own, by their own innocence.

I cannot understand why the council think their judgement overrides the mother's unless there are concerns about her objectivity on this.

walesblackbird Fri 08-Jul-11 11:58:39

If it was that minor and innocuous why would SS and Family Court be involved? This would indicate to me that it's possible that Social Services still have some involvement with this family and therefore have some concerns. I can't imagine how it would have got to this stage in court if there were no concerns?

sparks Fri 08-Jul-11 12:00:22

They may have concerns about the mother as well, we can't know that because it's confidential information. The article says the children are 'young' but how old is that exactly. Big difference between discussing this kind of thing with a 5 year old and with a 12 year old.

worraliberty Fri 08-Jul-11 12:03:22

Ahh of course, I didn't think about SS being a council department.

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