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One final, final word (and not a pleasant one)

I make no apologies for this final chapter but hopefully you will understand my motives. My career has taken me into some far dark areas of human nature. I spent a lot of years with sex offenders and this leads me onto one final point I cannot ignore when writing a piece such as this.

The use of ‘pup tents’ and awning annexes frightens me to the core. Seeing kids walking to toilet blocks on their own or with ‘older’ 7 year old siblings scares me to death.

There is a scary naivety amongst campers that you are ‘amongst your own’ and that ‘fellow campers’ are always friendly. This is mostly true, but a dangerous mentality to get in.

Sex offenders are listed and recorded in the areas they live in. By law if they leave the area, they should notify the Police. We know that doesn’t happen and recent, awful cases highlight this.

If you wanted to take a child, where would you go? Around the corner where you live or to another area? Registered offenders know that the first thing the Police do in any child abduction is to round up all the known offenders in that area. You can hear it happen on the news. So getting out of area is a good idea.

Although this is thankfully uncommon, camp sites are vulnerable areas. Your kids are surrounded by people they don’t know, people you don’t know will not stick out as unusual as they would on your local housing estate and all the people there are not local and there is no regulation to even give a proper residential address when booking. Some sites even allow people just to turn up, give the site fee for the night and pitch. Non-member sites particularly suffer this weak area.

This enables such an offender an easy way to get amongst lots of children and be unknown. You may think, yes but the caravan is visible – absolutely but is this a reason to trust everyone? Sex offenders commit crimes in their own homes so a caravan is unlikely to dissuade this sort of vile crime taking place. PLUS in the absence of registration on some sites, leaving a child on board and leaving the site is hardly a big risk is it?

I know this is not pleasant reading but this is real. To illustrate this – here is a true story.

I once stumbled across two beautiful little girls at a Club Site, about 6 and 4 years old wandering lost near a toilet block. It was dusk and not many people around. Although put in an awkward position I couldn’t leave them alone so asked them to follow me back to my van (mine wasn’t far away plus my experience wouldn’t let me leave them with someone I didn’t know) where I could summons the wife who was in the awning with  my 4 year old daughter. Plus the site of my little girl would cheer them up a bit and make them less scared.

They came with me no problem (another worrying point) and I left them with my wife whilst I found the wardens. The girls had told me that they were with their grandparents and told me their names. Unfortunately the grandparents had booked in their names, not the girls’ names so the warden couldn’t help. Do club sites take the names of kids? No they don’t and this highlights another weak area.

The warden came back and we managed to establish, with some clever questions – roughly where they were pitched – this was a 300 pitch site and there pitch was the other side of the park – a long walk away.

The warden and I walked with the girls towards the area and asked anyone if they recognised the girls and where they were pitched. Someone knew and just as they pointed towards a van, an old couple walked around the corner. To be honest their response shocked me. They were ‘sort of’ thankful but were not really concerned. Apparently, the girls went off to the toilet block under their instruction but obviously went to the one on the other side of the park. The elderly couple just said the girls were silly, but they were not too worried as they ‘knew’ they would be safe on a campsite.

I don’t have to even state what I felt, or more importantly how this story could have been very different. You would have been reading this in the News of the World, not on a good caravan enthusiast’s website.

This highlights peoples’ naivety and the lack of dynamic security. If you are foolish enough to let your kids just wander off, the least they should know is the pitch number.

Of course who says the sex offender needs a caravan. What stops him just walking onto the site? If in doubt, like the storage idea – just walk onto the site and see how easy it is to do that, then walk off again. How many exits are there, are woods nearby?

The offender would unlikely be identified, who would notice a stranger on a campsite – everyone is a stranger aren’t they?

So, my opinion on pup tents/awning annexes – I won’t say anything on this one.. simply post a link for you to read.

I hope this has given you some food for thought, made you chuckle at silly things we don’t think about and made you feel a little more enlightened to a tricky subject.

This is not about you not enjoying your holiday. Most campers are great people, and doesn’t attract the bad crowd as it’s not classed as ‘cool’. However just being aware, being dynamic in your approach can avoid you being a victim.

Again statistically you are unlikely to be even near to being a victim, but as I have said here simple things can be done to massively decreased these odds.

God bless. SP.