For the love of Moira
Parents of murdered Moira Jones visited ACRO to find out how we’re striving to make the world a safer place through the exchange of criminal records.
13th February 2020
Bea Jones and her husband Hu had endured a brutal, detailed and harrowing four-week trial when they found out that their daughter’s killer, Slovakian national Marek Harcar, had previous convictions.
“For the first time we learned he had a record of violence” explained Bea during a talk to staff at ACRO.
“We didn’t have any time to process this however, as we were ushered out to the steps of the High Court where I would deliver my prepared speech.
“The next day there was blanket coverage of the whole case, eight or nine pages in many papers. Reporters had been to Slovakia, the killer’s past life was described in detail and of course questions were being asked in every editorial about his presence in the UK.
“My initial thought on hearing his criminal record was that someone somewhere would be in trouble for allowing him in. We couldn’t believe that there were no checks in place, but it soon became clear to us that this was the case. He didn’t even need a passport [as an EU national, he was entitled to enter the UK under EU freedom of movement].”
Since that awful revelation, Bea has written letter after letter to MPs, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), campaigning for changes to UK legislation.
“I wanted measures taken to prevent violent criminals entering the country in the first place unless they were risk assessed or monitored.”
The journey Bea embarked on, and is continuing with today, led her to a meeting with ACRO’s CEO Rob Price.
Rob explained that ACRO is the only organisation that specialises in the international exchange, sharing and disclosure of criminal records information, and invited the Joneses down to find out how safeguarding is at the heart of everything we do.
During their visit to ACRO, Bea delivered an honest, moving and emotional talk to staff, which provided them with a rare insight into the suffering of victims and the impact such a crime can have.
Meeting and listening to Bea proved invaluable for ACRO staff:
“I attended the talk with a colleague, we were both very moved by it and both said that we just wanted to rush back to our desks and work, it was confirmation that the safeguarding of our role really does make a difference.” – Violent and Sexual Offenders Register (ViSOR) Analyst.
“The talk provided by Bea and husband Hu was emotional and inspirational. It also gives solace that the work we do within International Services is of the utmost importance in ensuring our communities remain safe both here in the UK and around the world.” – Criminal Records Administrator, International Services.
“It was a hard listen, but it made me realise how important the role of ACRO is in the grand scheme of things… On a personal level, I have always known my role was important, but this talk made that all the more apparent.” – Senior Criminal Records Administrator, International Services.
“It was really important to hear this family’s story. Working on the ViSOR desk, it is our sole aim to try and prevent cases like these from happening; by trying to keep violent sexual offenders out of the country or to get them managed by the relevant police force. The story really puts our work into context.” – ViSOR Analyst.
“Moira’s murderer was a Slovakian national so it highlights to me the importance of what I do here at ACRO on a daily basis and makes it real. Accuracy and attention to detail on each and every record that I process is required and I will continue to do so to try and make a difference.” – Criminal Records Administrator, International Services.
Bea and Hu talked to staff who explained how their work contributes to safer communities in the UK and across the world, which was well-received:
“Our visit to ACRO was a real pleasure. We appreciated so much the warm welcome we were given by everyone and there was a very special atmosphere throughout which spoke of caring as well as efficiency and this was very reassuring.”
For now, Bea and Hu are focussed on their work with The Moira Fund
– the charity they set up in their daughter’s name that provides support for those bereaved through murder and manslaughter.
To date, they have helped more than 1,000 families nationwide, which equates to around 4,000 individuals. Applications increase year on year, and they have responded positively to 99% of requests.
There’s a sense of pride from Bea about their charity work and rightly so: “We want to keep doing what we do in Moira’s name. It has been a very rocky road for us and it always will be. How could it be otherwise?
“We were so very proud of our lovely girl and I think she would be proud too of what we have achieved.”
Pictured: Rob Price, ACRO CEO, Bea and Hu Jones, and James Fulton, Head of ACRO