Anorak News | Using Ashleigh Hall to create a Facebook paedo panic

Using Ashleigh Hall to create a Facebook paedo panic

by | 26th, March 2012

IN “I posed as a girl of 14 online. What followed will sicken you” Mark Williams-Thomas told Daily Mail readers that he was “shocked by what I encountered when I spent just five minutes on a social networking site posing as a 14-year-old girl”.


“Within 90 seconds, a middle-aged man wanted to perform a sex act in front of me.”

How do we know it was middle-aged man? Middle-aged men on Facebook have been known to pose as 14-year-old girls.

…I wasn’t surprised that a vulnerable teenager, Ashleigh Hall, was groomed on Facebook before being brutally raped and killed.

Was it her vulnerability, her sex or Facebook that led to Ashleigh’s Hall’s rape and murder?

Ashleigh Hall was groomed online by Peter Chapman, a serial rapist who posed as a 19-year-old boy. Chapman was convicted of rape and robbery in December 1996 – he had been investigated for at least six violent sexual attacks raped two teenaged prostitutes at knifepoint. The police knew about him.

In 2010, Jim Gamble, then head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), said:

“Facebook say they have a robust system that produces millions of reports. But when we checked with police child protection teams across the UK, we can’t find evidence of any reports passed from Facebook to the police.”

Ceop is currently affiliated to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca). It’s part of the police. and what role did the Force play in Ashleigh’s murder?

The Times reported:

Peter Chapman, 34, managed to “slip away” from Merseyside Police because they had “inadequate resources” and there was “poor management” of his case, an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found. A single female officer was charged with looking after 60 offenders in the Knowsley area of Merseyside and had to make visits alone in her own car because of a lack of resources…

The IPCC concluded that staff levels meant that it was “impossible” for effective management of sex offenders to be carried out. It also found that the female officer had been given no appropriate training, despite repeated requests by her to receive it.

Said Ashleigh’s daughter Andrea Hall, 41:

“It was heartbreaking when they handed it me [a IPPC report}. If they had done their job properly and managed him properly, and he had not gone missing for a year, he would never have got anywhere near my daughter. I knew the report was going to be bad but this was worse than we thought.”

That report in full:


CEOP wants Facebook to use a “paedo panic button” on its pages. Facebook has said it will not. A spokesman for Facebook said:

“The safety of Facebook users is our top priority. We have reporting buttons on every page of our site and continue to invest heavily in creating the most robust reporting system to support our 400 million users.”

Former Lib Dem MP Richard Allan, who now works as Facebook’s director of policy in Europe, said:

“If someone has a concern that a sexual predator is engaging them on either our site or another site they should be going to their parents, to a responsible adult or to the police. It does not depend on the button … The one thing we don’t do is put that button on every page.”

The message remains the same, regardless of the technology: don;y talk to strangers, let alone meet them.

So much for the background. Now back to ex-copper Mark Williams-Thomas in the Mail and his “Paedophiles’ playground”:

Anyone who knows what an adventure playground social networking sites offer paedophiles would only be surprised that such tragedies don’t occur more often.

Why are social networking sits more dangeorus then any other website, says one for Fans of One Direction?

…I created a fake profile and photograph portraying me as a pretty, slim, 5ft 2in brunette who liked music and dance.

Like Lourdes, Madonna’s daughter.

Anyhow, a few men make themselves know to Mark.

They could have easily turned themselves into teenagers – as I had done – but many make little effort to disguise themselves because they think they’ll get away with it. And many do.

Get away with what?

After I typed back messages saying ’14, female, London’, the replies flew in: one man wanted to meet up immediately and asked what I liked doing or if I’d enjoy a trip to the cinema. Another promptly asked: ‘Are you a virgin?’

(No, not “Like a Virgin”, as the “Daily Mail Reporter” noted about one 15-year-old girl.) Mark should tell the police. Underage sex is a crime. The man could be talked to, or monitored.

Their audacity was shocking – they made no attempt to hide their intentions, despite the fact that having sex with a 14-year-old girl is classed as rape. They aren’t afraid to be up front because – nauseatingly – they have found this approach to be effective.

So. Underage girl wants to have sex with middle-aged deviants?

Some men checked to see if I really was a young girl by asking innocent questions about my likes and dislikes, such as my hobbies and where I went to school. Then, once they’d had the responses that showed I was young, they followed up with crude sexual requests or the constant chat and attention that experienced abusers use to groom girls.

Only, Mark is not young. The responses that showed Mark was young were falsehoods.

…The scale of potential abuse is mind-blowing. Especially if, like me, you’re a parent.

Because parents can’t be paedos? Because most child abuse does no occur in the home but on Facebook?

And the stereotypical image of the weirdo couldn’t be more misleading: these men appear responsible and respectable.

Asking an underage teenager “Do you touch yourself” is a sign of respectability in middle-aged men? And – get this – men who abuse children now, thanks to the internet, appear “responsible and respectable”. Because in the past they all had dirty mac and puppies. They were never teachers or policemen or Olympic stars.

The problem is that they can be caught far too late – like 33-year-old serial rapist and killer Peter Chapman.

Too late? He was caught before he murdered. But the police weren’t watching him properly.

What happened to Ashleigh Hall is desperately sad, but not surprising, given the proliferation of paedophiles online…

Chapman worked offline, too.

What is needed is a pro-active approach. The Government must provide police forces throughout Britain with the resources for covert policing, so they can lure men with fake teenage profiles before they ruin the lives of real children. The hunters must become the hunted.

Lure men with fake Facebook profiles to commit what crime?

At present, these monsters wander the internet without fear or caution…

No. You can report them to the police.

Those men who approached me are probably still there, waiting for young girls. In fact, they may have already found and preyed on many more.

In fact. May. Blimey…

But because we don’t have proactive policing, they will remain at large until someone they abuse reports them. As a parent, I don’t consider that acceptable.

Because parents can’t be paedos etc…

But wait a moment.

The Mail has added to its story:

In an earlier version of this article, we wrongly stated that the criminologist had conducted an experiment into social networking sites by posing as a 14-year-old girl on Facebook with the result that he quickly attracted sexually motivated messages. In fact he had used a different social networking site for this exercise. We are happy to set the record straight.


The Independent notes that Facebook read that fear-laden bilge and responded with a statement:

“We are in discussions with them and have not ruled out legal action.”

Sylvia Tidy-Harris, a spokeswoman for Williams-Thomas, said that the article had been credited to the criminologist but had been edited from a telephone interview conducted with the former detective by a Mail journalist.

“He has never, ever said it was Facebook. We have told Facebook that Mark never said in any way shape or form that it was Facebook and it couldn’t be because you are not able to do that on Facebook. Mark knows the chief security officer at Facebook, they met in Dallas last year.”

And then this:

Asked why Williams-Thomas has not identified the site on which he conducted his experiment, she said: “The reason he does not want to do that is because he does not want there to be another opening for paedophiles to head straight for.”

But don’t they already know about it? And aren’t all social meia sites havens for peados, as the article leads us to believe and fear?

Incidentally, Mark Williams-Thomas is the managing director of WT Associates:

If you are seeking independent consultancy combined with specialist child protection expertise, informed by up-to-date research and practice, then we will be able to assist you.

You can buy their Child Protection DVD – Matters2Me. Buy your copy now for just £9.78…”A must have for every parent & teacher”. Oh, and they offer a course in “policing the internet”.

It might be summed up on three words: “Call the police.”

Posted: 26th, March 2012 | In: Key Posts, Technology Comment | TrackBack | Permalink