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Press releases archive

 

More action needed to stop British travelling sex offenders abusing children abroad

18 October 2012

ECPAT UK today welcomed the launch of a new international tool to combat the sexual exploitation and abuse of children abroad by registered British sex offenders, but warns that even more must be done to tackle child sexual abuse.

The International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC), created by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and the ACPO Criminal Records Office, aims to help identify and screen out UK nationals with previous convictions for child sex abuse that make them unsuitable for work with children in international organisations, such as schools and orphanages, abroad. Working with the UK’s Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) system, the ICPC allows the individual to obtain a police check before gaining employment overseas. CEOP will be promoting the ICPC to international schools and other organisations who work directly with children. They aim to encourage organisations overseas to ask any new British recruit to apply for a certificate when assessing an applicant’s suitability to be working with children.

ECPAT UK strongly supports any new initiative which seeks to prevent the sexual abuse of children. This tool will help combat the threat of known UK child sex offenders who travel abroad to take on teaching, charity or volunteering roles in order to access and abuse children.

However, ECPAT UK is mindful that the ICPC will not filter out those individuals who are not known to police agencies in the UK or who are not on the Sex Offenders Register but who want access to children abroad for sexual purposes. These people will still be able to legitimately obtain a certificate and use it to gain employment abroad. The certificate itself, like the current CRB check, is only one tool that must be used in conjunction with robust child protection policies and procedures.

ECPAT UK is calling on the Government to strengthen its commitment to manage more effectively British sex offenders and the risks they pose to children in the UK and abroad. The limitations of ICPC scheme serve to highlight the need for fundamental reform. ECPAT UK continues to campaign for the ratification and implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse; the much greater use by the police of Foreign Travel Orders; and for a marked increase in the number of prosecutions in the UK of Britons who sexually abuse children overseas.

ECPAT UK’s 2011 report Off the Radar highlighted the risk posed by British travelling sex offenders working overseas in international schools and orphanages. CEOP stated today that since 2006 it has undertaken over 1,200 investigations into travelling UK sex offenders, a statistic which only underscores the need for urgent action to prevent British travelling sex offenders from gaining access to children overseas.

ECPAT UK Director Christine Beddoe said: “The ICPC certainly a step in the right direction towards preventing sex offenders from abusing children overseas. However, much more needs to be done to safeguard children, including improved cooperation between police in the UK and overseas, and cooperation with relevant NGOs and civil society organisations.” 

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

END

Notes to editors:
The International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC) can also be requested by any UK individual already in paid or voluntary employment in other countries, including the estimated 74,000+ UK teachers who currently work in international schools around the world. The certificate, which will take approximately 10 days to process, can be applied for from anywhere in the world and will help to ensure that working abroad is not seen as an ‘easy option’ for those who are not suitable to work with children in the UK but who may otherwise seek to travel overseas to abuse children.


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