"I blame myself for this rubbish. By revealing the extent of child abuse in the BBC TV programme Childwatch in the Eighties, I was part of the revolution in child protection which created these insidious jobsworths.
All we intended to do was alert viewers to the truth – that most child abuse happens within the family home. And that there are ruthless, clever paedophiles who are sexually attracted to children and will worm their way into any profession that brings them into contact with them.
But I had no idea the result would be senseless over-protection which pretends to see danger where there is none. Personally, I cannot see why we who have been checked are not given the equivalent of a driving licence, to be endorsed if we commit a relevant crime. But maybe that is too simple.
Unless we revise this hysterical attitude that every child should be treated like a china doll who must not be touched by adults, the bitter irony is that our most vulnerable children will pay a tragic price. Unless we use our common sense and recognise that most people are not a threat to children, I am deeply worried that this kind of caring relationship will be obliterated. Which means some children will be deprived of their only emotional lifeline.
…..Debating these issues on Radio 4's Today programme, John Humphrys asked me: 'Can you not see that one side effect of the setting up of ChildLine has been this over-reaction?'
Yes, John, now I can. The day after sports day last week, my friend took my godson and his brothers to the Marwell Activity Centre in Hampshire for a birthday party. The boys had a fantastic time on the slides, and my friend recorded their delight on a camcorder. Until, that is, a member of staff came and stopped him, because: 'The law says we will need written permission from all the other parents.'
There is, of course, no such law. I asked the Centre why they had stopped him, and they said it was company policy due to 'the response we have had from our clients'.
Not only stupid and narrow-minded, but just the kind of language to make your blood boil. I think we all need to rethink our attitudes."