Murdered schoolgirl's mother will fight child protection cuts

The mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne has vowed to fight austerity cuts affecting child protection – just months after surviving a life-threatening stroke.

Sara Payne, who was given a 50/50 chance of living following a massive brain seizure just over a year ago, said cash-saving measures would undo the good work already done to protect youngsters.

She criticised the Government for targeting the public rather than criminals when it came to budget cuts.

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"The message from the Government seems to be that they are going to be extremely soft on criminals but really tough on the public," she said.

"They must never forget the children and all the work that has been done to protect them.

"There will be cutbacks – but what cost can you put on the protection of children?" Ms Payne, who has learnt to talk and walk again following her stroke, said she wants a meeting with Home Secretary Theresa May to discuss the future of the threatened Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop).

She also vowed to fight the winding-up of the Forensic Science Service (FSS) – which helped convict paedophile Roy Whiting who murdered eight-year-old Sarah in 2000.

Criticising plans to close the service, which also helped snare killers such as Soham murderer Ian Huntley and Suffolk Strangler Steve Wright, Ms Payne, 42, said: "The main piece of evidence against Whiting was Sarah's hair on his jumper. The public want the forensic science service to be part of the money they pay."

According to the Home Office, the FSS – which makes an operating loss of 2m per month – is likely to run out of money by the end of the month and is expected to be wound up by March 2012, costing around 1,600 jobs.

Experts have warned the closure would cause the country to lose its position as world leader in crime-scene investigation.

Ms Payne also criticised plans to merge Ceop with a new British National Crime Agency.

"The merger will result in it being watered down and you won't have a specialised unit in the end," she said.

Ceop's former chief executive Jim Gamble, who quit in October after the change was announced, has also criticised plans to remove its independence, describing it as a "mistake for child protection".