Sarah’s Law Almost Certainly A Con

The link is to the Home Office report on piloting Sarah’s Law in four areas.  There’s an executive summary and the work is quite good descriptively, but hopeless on evaluation and almost entirely acritical.  I got to the report via where press reports that 60 cases of abuse had been prevented by the trials is discussed and broadly trashed.  I’d rate the report marginally above poor and as a waste of opportunity and public money.

Costings in the report are dubious, placing the costs of ‘doing a disclosure’ roughly between £700 and £1500, probably enough to trash the scheme unless this government puts it in the same PR category as pre-school milk.  Very few applicants get a disclosure (4%) and the professionals involved see it all as formalisation of business as usual, rather than anything to worry about.  An unregistered sex offender turned up through enquiry by an extended family member, but if we need this scheme for that kind of thing all is lost anyway.  The report more or less trashes itself and ends in dire banality, telling us of the emotional and other non-financial costs of sex crime.  Holy Gosh!

I tend to think this project was ZPFNulabour at its worst and an exploitation of Mrs. Payne.  It leaves us back to square one on handling recidivist offenders, something we do badly and waste a lot of money on.  We need a fresh start and I suggest this should begin with responsibility for and location of the management of such offenders at all levels of society.  We obviously need no further participation from people who can only recommend bland managerial actions like the eight this lot come up with, as any fool could have from a management check list.  One is ‘communicate effectively’ another ‘look at marketing and publicity’ – they don’t get any more detailed or better.

These researchers, almost enough for a Magnificent Seven, didn’t follow up those dissuaded from or not allowed to make an application (just less than half), were turned down by a third that did and then only got to a third who said they would be interviewed.  They don’t seem to be bothered by this or refer to any research on how likely those pissed-off are not to want to take any further part.  The remainder seem remarkably positive about a process in which only a few got what they came asking for.  A lot of forms were looked at though, which should ‘cheer us to the bone’.  They found none of the ‘screams of professional agony’of Shijuro or Intel about the likely intrusions into good work.  Whether these are valid or not is another matter – one would expect to find them,

Gadget appreciators will love the vague reference to public confidence!  This was not, as I’d hoped, a good example of evaluated trial.  It looks like mis-reported flummery.  I suspect the project monies were taken by grateful bean-counters who did a you, you and you selection leaving the work to business as usual – something of a standard handling method of research double and triple counting in universities, though I would have been sacked for such and uninventive and undetailed audit trail.  If this is rolled out at all, it will just be PR and we can expect ‘success stories’ on work attributed to this scheme that would have happened anyway.  What would Shij and Intel done with someone coming in and saying his cousin had turned up and thought he was  a sex offender who should be registered and wasn’t -told him to go away and come back when there was blood on the sheets?  Some policing is that bad, as we saw with Moat, but not in this area I suspect.  I doubt our rather growly on occasion mates would have needed new protocols ant more than me (I’d have sent Hog round only if there was a Super League clash).

Whatever this crap is, all it will change is work needing doing elsewhere with the money.


Sarah’s Law

Various kinds of revolting crooks, bullies and worse are rolled out into mostly poor parts of society to do harm.  I’ve long suspected we do nothing about this not through good, liberal intentions but because it’s cheap, the likely victims have little power or representation and those making the decisions are damned sure they won’t have to live near them.

Sarah’s Law seems to have prevented 60 abuses by paedophiles in its limited roll out.  If it’s this easy,why has this been so long in coming?  Our local cops reckon they know who is committing crime across the board.  Why do any of us have to have any of these people living near us?  Why is the widespread problem of recidivist crime not being excluded from our communities?  Who has interests in keeping the problem alive?  Who thinks, for whatever selfish reasons (and they are selfish as the thinking is done knowing they will not be victims), that any recidivist criminals and especially violent ones should be dumped to commit more crime?  John Rawls once talked of a veil of objectivity in decision making – essentially putting yourself into the other’s position and then asking what you would want.  The crooks and paedos may want to be where they are, the worthies may well want them there (away from them) – but there’s clearly another group involved we never seem to hear from.

Of course, beyond this, we do need some sensible argument and practice.  We don’t even let all the parties get their say before we start ‘decision-making’.  I know this is difficult because of spam,flamers, trolls and snerts, but there is a deeper problem with our rush to defend positions, to enter ad hominem that actually is a personal attack rather than banter between friends or simple expression of being pissed off with ‘great reputation’.  I believe we now have a fatal nexus of idiot media and bent politicians who dare not tell the truth, jobsworth and obscenely overpaid bureaucrats and ‘captains of industry’ and a culture in which we dare not tell the truth.  Books on this are legion -I can barely credit how many I have read and see no point in more.  We need new systems of public argument that get into practice like Sarah’s Law.  Evaluated practice is essential because we are so damned bad at argument,