The Press in York’s eight-month Change It campaign has resulted in a law change that will see child abductors placed in the Sex Offenders’ Register and banned from working with children.
The law-change will mean that child abductors can be excluded from certain zones such as playgrounds or parks.
Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said in a letter to York MP Hugh Bayley that the order proposed to add child abduction to schedule 5 of the Sexual Offences Act, ‘which is in line with your previous requests and the local campaign run by The Press in York”.
Editor Kevin Booth said: ‘It’s been a massive success story because under normal circumstances changes in the law can take years what with White papers, Green papers legislative debate and votes. The fact it was successful after eight months from start to finish was quite astonishing.
‘This was looked at by the Home Office in 2003 as part of a review they did and decided not to act on it. ‘But we kept banging the drum and lobbying. We have had all three party leaders in York over the past eight months – Tony Blair, David Cameron and Sir Menzies Campbell – and on each occasion we have put the campaign to them and they have signed up to it.
‘Now this is in place a kidnapper can be monitored, stopped from working with children and, in cases where the police felt it necessary, they can go for a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, which means they can impose exclusion zones such as parks or schools on an offender. There could be no better outcome.’The Press launched its campaign after discovering a loophole in the 2003 Sexual Offences Act during a case at York Crown Court. Terry Delaney tried to kidnap 13-year-old Natalie Hick, but when sentencing him to four years, Judge Paul Hoffman condemned the anomaly as he could not make any prohibitive order against Delaney.
Sara Payne, mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne, said: ‘None of this could have happened without the support of The Press – media at its best.”