Sex guidelines may ‘breach privacy law’

An investigation is to be launched into whether the London Child
Protection Committee’s guidance on professionals working with

sexually active children infringes privacy laws.

The charity Action on Rights for Children has lodged a complaint
with the information commissioner, claiming that the interim
guidelines, which require professionals to assess the sexual
relationships of under-18s in their care, breach the Data
Protection Act 1998.

The move came in the same week that Sir Michael Bichard, who
chaired the inquiry into the Soham murders, criticised the
guidelines, saying they were not in line with his recommendations
that social workers report cases of adults having sexual
relationships with under-18s to the police.

Terri Dowty, policy director at the charity, said that many
professionals were “horrified” at the protocol, which would
exacerbate the problem of potential criminality in under-age sex
between consenting minors close in age.

She said: “It is a terrible invasion of young people’s privacy.”
There was a real risk that “soft intelligence” accumulated by the
police could affect a child’s future dealings with the police as
well as their ability to work with children, she added.

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