Dangers of a vigilante society?
The wrong accusations of paedophiles
Bijan Ebrahimi was beaten to death and set on fire in Bristol over the summer. He was falsely accused of being a paedophile and was already the victim of hate crime that took the form of racial and physical abuse on the estate where he lived.
Apparently he had asked for help and been told to produce photographic evidence of harassment and damage. As he went round the estate taking pictures, somehow, someone, somewhere, started a rumour that he was taking pictures of children. The police arrested him and seized his camera and computers. As he was taken away there’s a report that a hostile crowd had gathered. No evidence of any kind was found and the police declared that there was no truth in the allegations about any paedophile activity. He went back to the estate where he was murdered. For a full news article please read further here. The crucial point was that no risk assessment seems to have been done and certain people, who have now been convicted of murder, took to vigilante activity and made another terrible mistake. It must be noted that you can never be sure if they were just looking for an excuse to commit further racially motivated crime on a vulnerable man.
This is not the first time in my experience that some elements of the public either make grossly wrong assumptions or use the ubiquitous label of ‘paedophile’ to pursue their own hateful activities. I remember some years ago when The News Of The World was still around it published pictures of many convicted offenders on the front page. Not only did this drive some of them underground and make it more difficult for the authorities to monitor their identities, but it made false identity thrive as well. Several innocent people who looked like them were targeted and, in true ignorance, even a paediatrician was targeted because they had the word ‘pead’ in front of their name. There was even a situation on the south coast where a known offender was driven from his home by a mob with placards held by young children.
We have to, as a society, control those who wish to harm children. There’s no question about that. All my working life I’ve been heavily involved in just that as I’ve seen the terrible damage it does to children. However while controlling aberrant behaviour we have to maintain our advance as a civilised society. Allowing scenes and actions that would have graced the Roman Colosseum is totally wrong.