Sex offenders should be free to adopt, claims lawyer

A blanket ban on sex offenders adopting children may breach their human rights under the European Convention, a family law barrister has claimed.

Helen Reece, who lectures in family law at the London School of Economics, said that there is no reason why all sex offenders should not be considered as potentially suitable for adoption.

Screening

Her comments were published in the latest edition of Child and Family Law Quarterly, where she states: “Sex offenders shouldn’t all be tarred with the same brush.

“People need to be carefully screened for adoption and fostering, but each case should be taken on its merits.

“There shouldn’t be blanket rules.”

Equal treatment

She went on: “What somebody has done before is not necessarily what he or she will do again.

“When someone has served a sentence, as far as you can, you should treat them the same as anyone else.”

Human rights

Helen Reece argues that a blanket ban would contravene Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits discrimination.

She feels that the Government could be subject to a legal challenge if it fails to recognise this.

Discrimination

She refers to a 2008 House of Lords case to support her contention.

The case, brought by an unmarried couple wishing to adopt, held that the blanket prohibition on unmarried couples adopting was “based upon a straightforward fallacy.”

Seeking to extend that decision to sex offenders, she believes the same principle of discrimination applies.

Child murders

According to Helen Reece, sex offenders have relatively low reconviction rates – a quarter of them are re-convicted.

And statistics for child sex murders have apparently been the same for 40 years.

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