The sentencing of Peter Chapman this week for kidnapping, raping and murdering teenager Ashleigh Hall has, quite rightly, led to numerous articles and commentaries in the mainstream media.
From what I can gather this man was a registered sex offender who was released on license on the proviso he complied with a strict set of instructions. In Jan 09 officers visted his home to find him not present, and then subsequently attempted to discover his whereabouts. In September 09 – 8 months later – they then issued a wanted alert. Mersyside Police have since submitted themselves to IPCC for investigation.
Firstly may I say that this is an absolutely tragic crime. My heart goes out to the friends and the family of Ashleigh Hall, whose grief and pain is unimaginable; to Ms Hall herself, whose final, harrowing moments need no further portral of despair; even to the individual officers of Mersyside police, who will be feeling guilt and shame – so much so that they referred themselves to be investigated by the IPCC. I do not in any way mean to diminish the severity of this crime.
But this crime is not a characterisation of the modern world; this is not a new crime. It is a heinous crime, yes, and its exact method would not have been seen 20 years ago. But policing the internet and monitoring emails is not the answer.
Facebook may well introduce a panic button, but this crime would not have happened if this man had not gained the trust of his victim – panic button or otherwise. Sex offenders emails may well be monitored, but we’ve seen how things can be overlooked when monitoring is supposed to be taking place. Surely education is the answer, for young people especially? IT as a core subject; introduce a module into the new ‘compulsory’ sex education bill on the internet; alert parents via a school newsletter and alert children to the dangers of being too trusting.
We can’t let ourselves be manipulated into giving up our privacy and freedom. It will start with the ‘high-risk’ parts of society but, make no mistake, a lazy, controlling government will see this rolled out nationwide in no time at all.