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Press releases archive


ECPAT UK calls for improved international coordination to monitor travelling child sex offenders

British national, Matthew John Harland, 38, is facing trial today (19/11/2010) at Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Cambodia on charges relating to child sexual abuse. Harland is on trial for the purchase of sex from children and committing indecent acts towards children. The verdict is expected to be announced on 6 December 2010. Under Cambodia's anti-human trafficking law, Harland could face a prison sentence of 7 to 15 years if found guilty.

Matthew Harland is previously known to UK police; he was arrested in 2005 in the UK on child abuse image charges but jumped bail. He was arrested in Cambodia in May 2010 and charged with buying sex from two children in 2006 and a more recent offence of committing an indecent act against a 13-year-old girl.

This case raises questions about how UK authorities share and manage information on individuals who may be a risk to children. Improvements need to be made to the UK’s approach to managing investigations and cooperating with police forces in other countries regarding sexual offences against children overseas. It is not clear whether Harland’s activities were being monitored between jumping bail in 2005 and his arrest earlier this year.

In addition, this case highlights the importance of ensuring that expertise to investigate child sexual abuse overseas is not lost in the proposed reforms to policing structures and the introduction of the National Crime Agency announced by the government earlier this year. An adequately resourced and trained specialist national police unit focusing on child sexual abuse overseas would help prevent offenders from targeting vulnerable children.

Christine Beddoe, ECPAT UK Director, commented ‘This case highlights the need for an urgent review of sex offender legislation. ECPAT UK is calling on the Home Secretary to undertake such a review immediately. A review is essential to identify the gaps which allow British sex offenders to abuse children overseas, in particular those individuals who are already known to the authorities.’

19th November 2010


Hannah Pearce, Policy Manager, ECPAT UK
Tel: 020 7233 9887 or 07779 097369


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ECPAT UK is the leading expert voice on child trafficking in the UK and we offer a comprehensive training programme focused on safeguarding young people from trafficking, modern slavery, and transnational abuse. To find out more visit our training page

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