Lords vote against entrapment proposal

Peers decide to block proactive law designed to deal with Net predators

Efforts by Tory peer Baroness Blatch to update the Indecency with Children Act 1960 so British police can use entrapment to catch Internet paedophiles was voted out by the House of Lords Wednesday.

Baroness Blatch challenged the Home Office to introduce a clause into the 40-year-old Act stating: "Any person who knowingly employs, uses, persuades, induces, entices or coerces a child to engage in an act of gross indecency with or towards any child... is guilty of an offence."

185 peers were not content with the proposal. 104 voted in agreement.

During the proposal Blatch said: "Existing legislation has not been drafted with Internet technology in mind... I am disappointed by the Home Office's lack of urgency on this issue".

The Home Office remains determined that legislation is technology neutral, and has no current plans to amend the laws relating to the entrapment of Net paedophiles.

Blatch argued that the UK should follow the example of the US by attempting to catch Internet paedophiles in the act of soliciting rather than waiting for them to assault a child. She spoke of a case in America where 22-year-old Jason Williams posed as a 13-year-old girl in an Internet chat room in order to entice a girl into meeting him offline. The girl that he attempted to "groom" was in fact an undercover inspector from the Colorado Police Department. The inspector met Williams in a shopping centre, and charged him on the grounds of enticement and intended sexual assault.

"The law should allow the arrest of a paedophile for preparatory offences," argued Blatch, who is adamant that enticement should be a crime.

Attorney General Lord Williams of Mostyn, a government peer, argued it isn't relevant whether or not the crime is committed on the Internet, stating that the act should be fitting to the crime itself.

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