Ashleigh Hall's mother calls for Facebook "panic button"
Mar 10 2010 By Matt McKenzie
THE mother of a murdered Darlington teenager has called on Facebook to install a paedophile ``panic button" on its site.
The social networking site has come under fire for not doing enough to protect children from online predators after the conviction of Peter Chapman, 33, for the kidnap, rape and murder of 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall. The convicted sex offender used a false identity to befriend and entrap the schoolgirl online.
Unlike other sites such as Bebo and MSN, Facebook has resisted pressure to install a help button for children that warns the authorities if they are at risk.
The button provides a direct link to child protection experts at the national Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).
Andrea Hall said: ``Anything that can be done should be done to stop these monsters. No stone should be left unturned. I just can’t see any reason why Facebook haven’t installed this panic button.
``It acts as a deterrent because predators feel that other users are watching them. It also gives those people who feel threatened, particularly vulnerable young children, an easy way of reporting it."
Chapman was jailed in 1996 for raping two prostitutes at knifepoint and served five years before being released and placed on the sex offenders register. He was later arrested for another rape in Cheshire but charges were dropped. Despite his risk level being downgraded, Merseyside Police should have been in regular contact with him.
He was last seen in person by police at his home on August 29, 2008. Police visited his home on January 6, 2009 to discuss a traffic matter but he was not in. Different officers were supposed to visit him a month later in line with his sex parole checks but again he was not in. It was not until September last year - a month before he murdered Ashleigh - that the alarm was finally raised.
Merseyside Police, the force responsible for monitoring serial sex attacker Peter Chapman, also faced criticism and has now referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The force waited nine months before issuing a national wanted alert after realising Chapman had vanished from his Kirkby home early last year.
Chapman was jailed for life at Teesside Crown Court on Monday and told he must serve at least 35 years after he admitted the kidnap, rape and murder of Ashleigh.