This is an extremely sad and difficult book to read and even though some 15 years have passed since the brutal and callous murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman the events still remain fresh in my mind. Who can ever forget that last picture of the two little girls wearing their Manchester United tops the clock behind them showing the time at 17.04. How could loving parents ever guess that within a matter of hours their two beautiful daughters would have their lives taken from them by the evil monster Ian Huntley. Kevin and Nicola were exemplary parents and had instilled in Holly the need to be always vigilant and aware when out on her own. No one could have anticipated that someone employed as a school caretaker and who together with his girlfriend, and teaching assistant, Maxine Carr, could oh so callously murder two such innocents. The sad fact is that it took such an evil event to happen before the laws concerning the vetting of individuals (especially those employed in the company of children) would be drastically overhauled. If the background of Huntley had been known and in particular his history of sexual relationships with minors he would never have found himself in the trusted position of school caretaker and so it follows that the lives of Holly and Jessica would have been spared and their date with destiny avoided on that warm summer evening in 2002.
The safeguarding vulnerable groups act 2004 was introduced following the Bichard inquiry into the Soham murders The Act introduced a ‘Vetting and Barring” scheme for people working with children, whereby a new independent safeguarding authority (‘ISA’) must maintain lists of people who are barred from certain kinds of work with children and adults. That list includes those who are convicted of, or admit to, certain specified criminal offences, including various sexual offences, and those involving violence or the mistreatment of children. Once barred, the restrictions on work last from a minimum of 1 to a maximum of 10 years. One of the greatest failings of the police was their inability to retain, store and pass information to neighbouring forces and colleagues throughout the UK. If only the residents of Soham had been aware that Huntley had in the past been accused of rape and sexual assault ( a charge that was later dropped due to lack of evidence) then the events that unfolded in Soham need never have occurred and the families of Jessica and Holly would not have had their lives altered in such a sad and callous way.