I have worked
with men who have abducted and killed children. Often, their capture
has failed to save the child and has not come about through good
needed to take the child can not be overestimated. It was clear from
the beginning in Portugal that we were dealing with an abduction and
the need to "think offender" was essential.
What was his
motivation? How would he initiate contact and target the child? How
would he control the environment to evade discovery?
cannot ignore the UK's experience in such cases. In the early '90s a
British paedophile group filmed the sexual abuse of Portuguese boys.
At one stage the
Americans were so concerned about the role of British paedophiles in
Portugal that I was approached about the targeting of schools there.
International co-operation should be part of police thinking
However, there is
no culture of community policing in Portugal and they have laws that
prevent the discussion of cases. This is clearly the wrong way
round. The media are essential in passing co-ordinated and directed
information to the community.
In this case,
speculation is rife, confused messages are likely to be given.
The parents will
be feeling guilty for leaving the children and even a half hour is a
long time if a child wakes up and starts to cry immediately after
one leaves the room.
possibly, lead to a woman on her own, who has lost a child, saying
to herself wrongly that the parents did not care for this child and
deciding to take the girl home. No paedophile, no conspiracy - just
a lonely woman.
The window of
opportunity for the abductor means that the information given by the
parents has to be very accurate. Police must help them to say
exactly how long it was since they last saw their child.
The parents need
to know that if this was an offender who planned the abduction then
there is probably nothing they could have done.
I once asked an
abductor who had killed girls how we could stop him. He said: "I
suppose you would have to chain a child to the mother." But he
added: "No, that would not work. I would take both."
Ray Wyre is an
expert in sexual crime who worked in the UK Probation Service in the
1970s before specialising in programmes for sex offenders.