Anthony Horowitz: This law reflects a twisted view of society

Saturday 22 October 2011 23:18

It is hard to know what is most objectionable about the database proposed by a government that seems more and more like a dying wasp, determined to sting one last time before it goes.

In essence, I'm being asked to pay £64 to prove that I am not a paedophile. After 30 years writing books, visiting schools, hospitals, prisons, spreading an enthusiasm for culture and literacy, I find this incredibly insulting.

It is also so ludicrous as to be very nearly insane. When I go to a school, I usually talk on a stage in the assembly room with an audience of around 300 children and a dozen or more teachers. Even if I were the most cunning deviant in the world, how exactly would I contrive to molest a child in such circumstances?

You would have thought that by now New Labour would have got over its love affair with databases. It has created no fewer than 28 of them, according to Damian Green MP – and they have a fine record of mislaying their contents. They're also ineffectual. Let us not forget that Ian Huntley, whose crimes at Soham seem to have prompted this latest legislation, was vetted.

Of course we want to protect children. We don't want them to scratch themselves or twist their ankles either – but would this lead us to ban playgrounds? This is a case of a government that doesn't know where to stop. And it creates a situation worse than the one it is cack-handedly trying to solve.

What I really hate about this database is the way it poisons the very special relationship that exists between children and the authors they admire. What sort of sick mind could whisper that there might be something suspect in that relationship, that children should be wary of all adults – unless they're government-approved?

This is a law made by people with a bleak and twisted view of society. And such people, quite simply, should not be making laws.

Anthony Horowitz is an author and screenwriter. His children's books include the Power of Five, Alex Rider and Diamond Brothers series

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