By Gudrun Schultz

United Kingdom, January 12, 2006 ( – Ministers in the U.K.‘s Department for Education and Skills (DfES) have allowed registered child sex offenders to teach in schools.

Norfolk Police arrested Mr. Paul Reeve in 2003 during Operation Ore, the largest investigation into child pornography Internet rings the UK has ever seen. Mr. Reeve, believed to be in his 30’s, received a police caution for accessing pornographic images of children on the Internet. He was then registered as a sex offender.

In December 2005, Mr. Reeve was cleared to work as a physical education teacher in Hewett School in Norwich. Police alerted school administrators to Mr. Reeve’s history eight days after he began work. Parents are now demanding an apology.

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has admitted that ministers have allowed “a small number” of sex offenders to work in schools.

According to the Times, over the past three years ministers have cleared at least ten convicted sex offenders to work with children.

Gregory Carlin, head of the Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition (IATC) told in a telephone interview today that the Children’s Safeguards Policy Unit at the DfES were previously warned by the IATC to protect the integrity of the FBI information which led to the arrests of the sexual offenders. The US-based FBI compiled the list of offenders via credit card records from busts of illegal Internet child-porn websites.

According to Carlin, allowing the sex offenders identified unsupervised access to UK children is a disgrace which demonstrates systemic problems within the institution. Carlin felt Education Secretary Kelly was, although partially guilty, being scapegoated and hopes that the systemic problem is addressed.

  List 99, the DfES’ official blacklist of individuals who are barred for life from ever working with children, does not contain all individuals on the sex offender register. British law requires that ministers examine individually cases of those who have only received a caution.

However, if a person accepts a formal police caution, the Secretary of State usually regards that as “conclusive proof of guilt.”

The Secretary can ban someone from teaching with “adequate evidence to substantiate the alleged misconduct.” The Education Secretary has automatic powers to ban anyone guilty of sexual offences or attempted offences against children. These offenses include taking or distributing indecent photographs.

“The Children’s Safeguards Policy Unit at the DfES have no training in dealing with sexual offending,” Carlin told

Kelly has said the Government will respond to this situation by introducing a new, tighter system of inquiry into teachers. Steve Sinnott, general secretary for the National Union of Teachers, told The Independent: “Children should not be put at risk. If somebody is on the sex offenders’ register they should not be in school.”