Two stories in the news today bring home the good and the bad things that surround our children’s safety.
Firstly, the police in Oxford announced that 50-60 young women had been further identified as victims of the paedophile ring that operated for 8 years in the city.
The horrific stories that emerged when a year ago 7 men were convicted of grooming, trafficking and abusing many young women. But now the Kingfisher Unit set up at the end of 2012 involving a multi-agency approach has had at least 20 investigations and served 40 abduction notices. These notices are when if the same man is the subject of a complaint for a second time with the same teenager – just hanging around them is enough- he can be arrested.
All of the young women who have come forward now or given statements can be not only praised for what they’ve done and had the courage to do so, but given the new atmosphere that exists of reporting and sensitive handling of alleged victims praise can also be directed at the statutory authorities for improving their image and operating practice. That change in confidence and trust is the good news and we hope to see more of the same because I’m certain there is a lot more for us to hear about all over the country and abroad.
The second story concerns William Vahey who taught at Southbank International School in London for several years until 2013. He killed himself two days after the police obtained a warrant to search his computer files, as an American citizen he had returned in the last year and this is where he was found dead.
The FBI listed the countries in which he had worked as a school teacher, apart from England, and the included another 10 who now will have to instigate investigations and talk with literally hundreds of children and families.
His modus operandi was to ply children with sleeping pills and then abuse them.
Again there’s not much good news in this except to say that any stories like this hitting the headlines can only reinforce the steps that we take to vet people and make sure they are safe. Vahey was convicted in America many years ago but failed to be included in the sex offenders register which allowed him to fly under the radar and allowed him to abuse dozens of children in dozens of locations.
If we needed anything to remind us how important it is to enforce sanctions on those inclined to abuse children, this is it.by