Friday, 21 August 2009

The Road to Hell (Jersey) Law 2009

We all know where good intentions lead us but there is a view that paedophiles should be sent there and some would even have them burning for eternity. It’s all very worrying stuff and there is no doubt that the population in this Island needs protective laws – but what laws precisely and what are we trying to achieve?

The Sex Offenders (Jersey) Law will be lodged soon and has been delayed for many reasons including that the “agencies involved” have not yet decided how they would operate it and what resources would be needed.

This is the law that proposes to create a “Sex Offenders Register” and will enable Jersey courts to make orders in order to prevent paedophiles from offending again. But is that just a dream in reality?
It is going to be expensive to run and in the first 2 years the courts will be catching up on the backlog of existing offenders.
And the law will enable orders to be made for the protection of children in certain cases even without a previous criminal conviction.

More legislation is centred on Proposition 121 which is due for debate in Jersey very soon. This arises because the UK laws will change in October so that Jersey will lose access to ENHANCED CRIMINAL RECORD CHECKS.
Enhanced means that additional information will be supplied about SUSPICIOUS behaviour which could render a person unsuitable to work with children or vulnerable adults (and work can mean voluntary or charity activities).

The UK system has been changed without adequate thoughts or consultation about how it will affect Jersey (or the other Crown Dependencies) so once again we must wonder why our
elected “representatives” and our expensive civil servants have allowed this to happen?
So now, all of a sudden, we have to agree to this Order in Council in a panic, just to maintain the status quo and so that we can continue to access the inadequate UK records system.

Another part of the package is the proposed Vetting and Barring legislation in accordance with the new UK procedures that are being introduced following Ian Huntley murdering 2 girls at Soham. There, the police incompetence over years had failed to log his previous activities and because he had no convictions, he did not appear on any register and was able to obtain work at a school as caretaker.

It may or may not be relevant to remember also that a police officer employed on the Soham case was subsequently convicted of child pornography offences so we should not under-estimate the scale of the problem that runs throughout society – both there and here.

In theory, the UK system will ensure that anybody working with children or vulnerable adults will have to be registered CENTRALLY in the UK and will be given a UNIQUE number so that their status can be checked by employers etc. Their status in terms of being barred or not may change from time to time. In theory, those who have nothing against them will be able to demonstrate this quickly. It’s another version of the civil servants favourite gimmick the “ONE STOP SHOP”. It will apply to all people already employed or engaged in sensitive areas as prescribed as well as future applicants.

It is not yet determined how the Jersey system might actually work in conjunction with the UK system but it is anticipated that Jersey will be fully integrated into UK Central but with a local appeals procedure. But how any Jersey tribunal will have authority to correct mistakes or decisions made in the UK is baffling and especially worrying.

Not the least worrying aspect is that so much information that is based upon a name or post code has been shown to be incorrect on computer files. And, with the complexity of spelling for many Channel Islands names - besides “Foreign” ones – and the lack of records for many people from overseas, working or seeking work in the British Isles, the potential practical problems are immense.

The Jersey Home Affairs Department proposes to put on explanatory meetings in September with regard to the Sex Offenders Law for both States members and the general public but does not have any similar plans yet with regard to Vetting and Barring.

Since the whole package needs to be understood and discussed from the outset it seems very silly not to have a proper explanation and full consultation facility offered ASAP.
It will be absurd if we lock into the reformed UK system only to find that it is incompatible with future Jersey Vetting and Barring proposals.

Proposition 121 needs to be treated with caution as the first chapter of a possibly very flawed remedy to some extremely serious problems. Are you sure that YOU understand what is proposed?
Submitted by Thomas Wellard.


Anonymous said...

Jersey's population data for less than 100,000 people is easily managed on a small computer so why we cannot run our own vetting and barring system is a mystery.
The UK has an ever changing population of 60 millions and the only predictable certainty is that their computers won't cope and the end result will be less security - not more.

We should also bear in mind that it is proposed in Jersey to have a resident's card for every person in the island - like an ID card - so as to rationalise housing, work and social security
status. Why oh why immerse this totally relevant informtion - which is controlled and policed locally - in a flawed and leaky UK computerised system (which will probably be stolen from the back of a car in a few years.)

voiceforchildren said...

Thomas Wellard.

Does this mean if a notice of disclosure has been recieved against a top Civil Servant for being under investigation for violently abusing children, then the said Civil Servant would be deemed as unsuitable to be any where near children?

Anonymous said...

Surely Jersey doesn't have so many sex offenders that it couldn't cope with the extra work? I don't buy the story that the courts etc will buckle under with the 'burden'.

Anonymous said...

This is a world wide problem and especially difficult for small jurisdictions to deal with.
See the recent Bermuda murder case on

Bermuda needs a Sex Offenders Register and has known it for decades but another girl has been murdered and still nothing is done. HDLG is part of a universal dilemma but there is no magic solution anymore than there is a tooth fairy.