Malcolm Johnson on ITV Daybreak on the issue of child abuse

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The evidence is then passed on to the police.  Regrettably the police and the NSPCC have expressed concerns about the group's activities. 

On the one hand, the internet grooming of children is a serious problem, which the police find very difficult to fight with the limited resources at their disposal. People are understandably frustrated and they want to act, particularly when it is their child at risk. 

On the other hand, although there have been arrests, it is still a very long way to a criminal conviction. We do not know whether the evidence that these people collect is going to be useable in a criminal court, where the rules are very strict indeed. Furthermore there is a real danger that this kind of activity will upset existing child protection investigations. The police have the advantage of what is known as MAPPA, which is the Multi Agency Public  Protection Arrangements. This allows the police to interact with social services and other agencies to manage dangerous offenders. Information sharing is absolutely crucial when it comes to protecting children, and it was one of the failings highlighted by the enquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie. MAPPA includes the Child Sexual Offender Disclosure Scheme, which allows the police to warn members of the public in certain circumstances, where they feel that a child is at risk. The group which was the subject of today's TV report don't have access to that kind of information and this can cause real problems.  

An example of how MAPPA works in practice can be seen in the case of X (South Yorkshire) v Home Office [2012] EWHC 2954 (Admin) where a challenge was made to the Child Sexual Offender Disclosure Scheme. 

Malcolm Johnson is an Associate in our Personal Injury team. He is a co-author of Jordans "Child Abuse Compensation Claims" and a founder member of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyer, an organisation set up to help survivors of abuse achieve just compensation. 

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