The Sun has given an enthusiastic welcome to John Reid’s suggestion that parents might get the right to know where paedophiles live. The introduction of a UK version of America’s "Megan’s Law" would, The Sun declares, mean that "monsters like Robert Excell, Victor Burnett and David Falconer will never again be allowed to melt into a community without parents knowing."
David Davis, Shadow Home Secretary, is cautious about John Reid’s intentions. "We have to protect the rights and the safety of children – that’s paramount," he told BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, "but we must make sure we don’t end up with some lynch mob law." Mr Davis, a longstanding civil libertarian, also reminded viewers of the recent Criminal Records Bureau fiasco where innocent people were given criminal records. Could the Home Office be trusted to correctly identify paedophiles?
‘The Sun Says’ column has no time for this caution. It describes John Reid’s decisions to explore Megan’s Law (which it believes is "certain" to result in action), and to move convicted 60 "perverts" away from schools and hospitals, as "commonsense measures" that represent "a huge change in attitude at the Home Office". "In the past Mr Reid’s department has failed the country on many fronts, and he has a formidable task to put things right," it continues, "but the step toward a Sarah’s Law is a brilliant start."
Law and order issues look set to play a crucial role at the next General Election. If the Tories decide to oppose Megan’s or Sarah’s Law coming to Britain they are certain to face the same barrage of criticism from Labour and Rupert Murdoch’s red-tops that they faced over the 90-day detention of terrorist suspects. The public will be suspicious of Labour’s ability to deliver justice for criminals, however, after the foreign prisoner release scandal. The Tories’ Human Rights Act and new prison building pledges also demonstrate that David Cameron is determined not to be ‘out-toughed’.