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ECPAT UK
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Press releases archive

 

ECPAT UK calls for greater protection for children from sexual abuse on International Children’s Day

ECPAT UK is marking International Children’s Day today by calling on the UK Government to do more to manage child sex offenders in light of the recent arrest of a British offender who had been on the run in Europe for more than 15 years.

Convicted child sex offender, Warwick Spinks, was caught on 15th November in the Czech Republic and returned to the UK after an international manhunt lasting nearly two decades. He was arrested on arrival at Heathrow by police officers from CEOP, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

Spinks is described as ‘one of the most notorious and violent offenders’ CEOP has ever dealt with. ECPAT UK would like the UK authorities to explain why it has taken over a decade and a half to bring this offender to justice and to prevent him potentially abusing many more children.

Originally convicted in the UK in 1995 of sexual offences against children, Spinks was jailed for seven years and this was reduced to five years on appeal in 1996. Despite the seriousness of his crimes, he was released on licence on condition that he was not allowed to leave the UK without permission. He breached this condition in 1997 and was recalled to prison, but went missing and was not found until last week.

ECPAT UK has grave concerns that offenders, such as Spinks, travel abroad to escape justice, putting children in those countries at risk; we are calling on the Government to strengthen its commitment to more effectively manage British sex offenders and the risks they pose to children in the UK and abroad.  

Following his extradition from the Czech Republic, Spinks will now serve the 18 remaining months of his original 1995 sentence. ECPAT UK hopes that this offender will be appropriately monitored on his release from prison, as he has a history of travelling abroad potentially to abuse children and previously refused to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register.

While ECPAT UK welcomes the hard work of CEOP, the Metropolitan Police Service and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in finally tracking down Spinks and bringing him back to the UK to face justice, we are concerned that the Government is not doing enough to more effectively manage British child sex offenders and protect children everywhere.

We are also concerned about the fact that many British child sex offenders arrested and convicted abroad for sexual abuse and exploitation of children are not returned to the UK immediately upon their release. This leaves them free to stay in the countries where they were arrested or to travel to other countries, placing many more children at risk.

Colin Walker, ECPAT UK Deputy Director, said: “It is unacceptable that dangerous individuals, such as Spinks, are able to disappear abroad and potentially sexually abuse children at will for many years. The UK Government must work with its international partners to improve international cooperation to tackle the threat to children everywhere from sex offenders.

“This is why we are calling on the Government to ratify and implement the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. This sets out measures to foster greater international cooperation and mutual legal assistance in investigating and prosecuting sex offenders.“We are also urging the Government to develop a cross-government strategy to deal effectively with the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences committed abroad by British sex offenders.”

20th November 2012

PRESS CONTACT
Colin Walker
Deputy Director, ECPAT UK
Tel: 020 7233 9887

END

Notes to editors:   
In 2010, ECPAT UK published a report ‘Off the Radar – Protecting Children from British Sex Offenders who Travel’, which called for improved international cooperation between countries and jurisdictions, so that child sex offenders are better monitored to prevent repeat offending and to ensure quick and reliable prosecutions.

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