If you have evidence of crime, take it to the police

The whole circus around accurate and false accusations of child abuse has been deeply disturbing in both directions.

It is essential to protect children from harm. Therefore anyone who has anything which remotely resembles evidence that children might be at risk should take it to the proper authorities, e.g. the police. If there is any real evidence that the police are failing to properly investigate such accusations, there then might be a role for the media in applying pressure.

There is no role for the media in making childish stunts in relation to this terrible and serious crime,  such as ambusing the prime minister live on air with a set of names based on three minutes' research on the internet.

Precisely because child abuse is such a terrible crime, those who are falsely accused of it can have their lives destroyed - in some cases literally. People who appear to have been innocent have committed suicide when accusations of this kind have been published. Marriages and families can be wrecked by such allegations - and the children of those falsely accused can suffer grevious emotional harm as a result.

Completely innocent people who have the misfortune to share a similar name or appearance to a person accused of being a paedophile have been driven from their homes. Twice in the past few years here in West Cumbria there have been incidents where rumours that convicted people were living in particular properties - which the police were at pains to stress were due to mistaken identity - caused serious problems for the wholly innocent people who were actully living there.

So anyone who makes an allegation on this subject is playing with fire.

I think it is in the long-term interests of child protection that the former politician who was falsely accused of child abuse is taking legal action against the people who made and repeated that allegation. If a few of these people get badly hit in the pocket the message might get through that you need to make sure you are telling the truth before you trash someone's reputation with a serious allegation on the internet.

If that means fewer allegations, and that more of the ones which do get made are actually true, there is more chance that something will be done about them.

In the meantime, if anyone reading this believes that they have real evidence of any case where children are at risk, don't put it on the internet. Take it to the police.


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