University Stirs Up Debate Over Child Killers

Research into child killers by Bournemouth University has forced its authors into a contentious conclusion. They believe “Ian Huntley-type” personalities should have to prove they are safe to live among us before they are let out of prison – even if they haven’t killed anyone.

The authors, in a paper published last week, found they were 1,880 times as likely to kill a child as the average person.

Prof Colin Pritchard from the school of social sciences said: “It’s against human rights – but these men frighten me.

“I am hoping the paper will start a genuine debate.”

The research was based on murders investigated by two police forces in what the authors would only describe as “Wessex” and on coroners’ reports.

Prof Pritchard and Tony Sayer looked at “VMCCSA” offenders – they used violence, committed multiple types of crimes (burglary and theft, for example), and were also child sex offenders.

They found these “Ian Huntley” style people were rare, with only around 900 in the country, and that only two per cent of them went on to kill.

But the researchers decided that anyone in this category should have to prove they were not a risk to the community before they were released.

Children are far more likely to die from natural causes, car crashes or to be killed by their own parents.

But as individuals, the VMCCSA men are deadly.

Prof Pritchard said: “However, this two per cent as a risk to children, is more than 300 times the rate of children dying from cancer.

“If we can identify such men before they kill, what to do about them?”

The paper was published in the British Journal of Social Work.