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No More City Parks
September 10, 2008 permalink
From the too-fantastic-to-make-up department: The latest casualty of the child abuse moral panic is the city park. Visitors to the Telford Town Park in Shropshire, England will now be questioned when they enter without children. Undergoing a Criminal Records Bureau check or risk assessment before entering the park is a requirement under the Child Protection Act. Since in practice no one will submit to such a check for the mere convenience of sitting in a park, the park is now closed to everyone except children and their accompanying parents. We will be watching to see whether this practice spreads.
Park attendants ordered to interrogate adults spotted without children
By Daily Mail Reporter, Last updated at 11:42 AM on 10th September 2008, Telford
Park wardens have been ordered to stop and interrogate anyone who is not accompanied by children.
The visitors who are quizzed have to explain their presence and risk being thrown out or reported to police if their answers are not satisfactory.
The policy has been introduced at Telford Town Park in Shropshire. The council which manages the 420-acre area says it is a 'commonsense approach' aimed at safeguarding children.
But park users accused it of 'authoritarian madness' and said the ruling risked panicking parents about the dangers faced from potential paedophiles.
The policy came to light after two environmental campaigners dressed as penguins were thrown out of the park last month when caught handing out leaflets on climate change.
Telford and Wrekin Council said Rachel Whittaker and Neil Donaldson were ejected because they had not undergone Criminal Records Bureau checks or risk assessments before entering the park - a requirement under the Child Protection Act.
David Ottley, recreation manager at the Tory-run council, said in a letter to a member of the public over that issue: 'Our town park staff approach adults that are not associated with any children in the park and request the reason for them being there.
'In particular, this applies to those areas where children or more vulnerable groups gather.'
Miss Whittaker, 34, from Wellington, near Telford, said the policy carried a 'dangerous implication that if you have a child with you than everything is OK and you won't be questioned'.
Former childcare social worker John Evans said: 'It is authoritarian madness which can only be based on ignorance. It is absurd, it is insulting and it is dangerous as it panics people about the dangers their children face.'
A council spokesman insisted that only those 'acting suspiciously' would be stopped and questioned.
Source: The Daily Mail (UK)