Chips with everything

16.11.06: THE DEBATE over chipping took a strange but welcome turn when little Keri P, who is four next week, was reunited with her jubilant mother, Jackie, after an agonising 18-week absence.

Keri, who was born in Bromsgrove, was chipped at birth as part of a pilot security programme. She was abducted in the spring by her father, a Brazilian surgeon, now working in northern Mexico. Thanks to the device, she was detected by the American police during a shopping visit across the border to the Cielo Vista mall in El Paso, Texas.

Speaking at a press conference at Birmingham International airport, Amy Fellowes, spokesperson for Families Without Children, said that many abducted children and teenage runaways could be saved if all children were routinely chipped at birth. A hand-held scanner detects the chip, and information is relayed by computer to a radio transmitter, then on to a central databank.

However, Sally Owen, speaking for Parents Against Chipping, accused the Home Office of staging a 'tear-jerker publicity stunt' to draw public attention away from the many worrying civil liberty issues that universal chipping would entail.

Owen added there were also looming health issues to be considered. 'We simply do not know if these ingestible chips are safe,' she said.

Unpublished government reports indicate a growing crisis in funding some measures of the Crime and Disorder Act. It is understood that 'chip-monitoring' offenders who are released on correction schemes is proving expensive to administer.