Just who is watching over our children?
FOR possibly the first time ever, this week I found myself in the very strange position of agreeing with George Bush. Speaking following the shootings at Virginia Tech, Mr Bush said that schools should be places of safety, sanctuary and learning . I abso
FOR possibly the first time ever, this week I found myself in the very strange position of agreeing with George Bush.
Speaking following the shootings at Virginia Tech, Mr Bush said that "schools should be places of safety, sanctuary and learning".
I absolutely agree with him in that context but there is also an unsettling tale closer to home to which his words could also apply.
Graham Conridge had already been banned from working in Bedfordshire following serious accusations of misconduct, but yet just two years later, he was given a job at Collenswood School in Stevenage.
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Hertfordshire County Council has admitted that it knew Conridge was being investigated for child protection issues and asked all schools to notify the council if he applied for a job with them.
But somehow, they think through an agency, he slipped through the net.
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During the time he was employed at Collenswood, Conridge was downloading indecent images of young girls.
Pupils of Collenswood at the time have been let down by the system, be it by those in charge of the agency, those in charge of the school or the county council itself.
There is no explanation which can excuse how this dangerous man was allowed to get work just over the border from a county which had investigated and banned him.
It should simply not have happened.
Given today's high-tech society with all the capabilities for communication and data sharing, there is no reason why such a simple piece of information - he is dangerous, don't give him a job - could not have been given to, and more importantly, acted upon, by all relevant parties.
The case for me has worrying echoes of Ian Huntley, albeit with less tragic consequences.
Huntley had been investigated by Grimsby police for a variety of sexual offences to do with underage girls, but due to lack of evidence, he was only ever charged with burglary, and cleared of even that.
Despite this dubious history, he was given a job as a caretaker in Cambridgeshire, only to go on to murder Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
Is our country really so tied up in bureaucracy and the confines of county borders that simple intelligence cannot be spread nationwide?
One of my biggest bugbears to do with local authorities is how paranoid they are about allowing pictures of children to appear, with names, in newspapers.
They are terrified of some perceived danger from perverts out there.
It strikes me that if Conridge's and Huntley's cases are anything to go by, they might be better placed looking at their procedures for who is actually within their schools rather than worrying about people who may or may
not be lurking in the wider community.