Police investigations into users of child pornography websites
could have major implications for the vetting of carers, the former
president of the Association of Directors of Social Services
Mike Leadbetter said the scale of the problem was so great that
local authorities may have to carry out multiple checks on staff
working with children far in excess of what is currently being
done, and regularly quiz children about their treatment from
Leadbetter, director of social services at Essex – a post he will
be leaving at the end of December to become leader of the
Department of Health’s training task force – said recent
investigations by US police had found there were more than 7,000
users of child porn websites from the UK.
As a result, police and local authorities have been trawling
through the list of names – users were identified by paying to
access websites with their credit cards – to try to track them
down. The operation, codenamed Ore, has already resulted in some
Users of the websites have come from all backgrounds and a variety
of occupations – including foster care.
Leadbetter said: “The implications of this are off the scale and
could grind the child care system to a halt.” He said there was a
need for more standardisation in the way local authorities assess
whether children are at risk of abuse.
“Different authorities have different interpretations of risk,
while police deal with users in different ways,” he said.