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Press releases archive

 

Police explore international links for convicted child sex offender Ian Watkins

Singer Ian Watkins sentenced to 35 years for multiple child sex offences“Away from the highlights of your public performance lay a dark and sinister side.” This was the comment of Mr Justice Royce of Cardiff Crown Court when he sentenced Ian Watkins, singer of band Lostprophets, to 35 years for multiple child sex offences. Watkins admitted to 13 offences, including conspiring to rape a child, three counts of sexual assault involving children and seven counts involving taking, making or possessing indecent images of children, among other offences. 24 of the 90 images found on his computer fell into the most serious category.

As Watkins begins his prison sentence of 29 years, detectives investigating the cases believe there may be more victims not just in the UK, but also in the US and Germany, where the band toured extensively. Detectives are liaising with forces across Britain, the international police organisation Interpol and the Department for Homeland Security in the US to establish further abuses.ECPAT UK welcomes these positive steps taken by South Wales Police to trace other victims outside the UK. The UK government has a responsibility to protect children everywhere from its citizens who have been convicted and those the court and law enforcement authorities consider as high risk.

Watkins and celebrities before him, who have now been convicted of this heinous crime, not only abused their international celebrity status and fame, but also continued to abuse children for a time without prosecution, knowing that their status and power would be prioritised over the evidence of abuse from the victim. This is reflected in the reluctance of authorities to take earlier action when complaints are made against the abusers. Complaints were made against Watkins for several years prior to his arrest in 2012 but were not followed up on by police. Watkins, who was arrested in December 2012, was able to use his celebrity status to carry out numerous acts of sexual abuse on young children before his crimes came to light.

Defending Ian Watkins in court, his barrister Sally O'Neill argued in mitigation that pressures of fame, drug addiction and stress contributed to his crimes and that fans “would do anything to attract his attention and once they had it do anything to keep it. It was 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He was bombarded with messages from fans trying to hit on him,” she said.

ECPAT UK believes there can be no calls for leniency in sentencing for child abuse. There can be no justification for the abuse of children and violation of their rights under any circumstances.

Najrana Imaan, Head of Advocacy, Policy and Campaigns (Transnational Child Exploitation), ECPAT UK, said: “More needs to be done to dispel the prevailing culture of disbelief and mistrust of evidence from children, which continues to leave vulnerable children everywhere unprotected by the criminal justice system.  Every claim and/or complaint made of child abuse must be reported and investigated at the earliest.”

ECPAT UK has been working for many years to end child sexual exploitation by UK nationals. Children both in the UK and abroad are at a great risk from such abuse due to their heightened vulnerability, whether it is their social and economic circumstances or the superior socio-economic position of their abuser, which makes vulnerable children across the globe targets for grooming and subsequent abuse.

The Watkins case illustrates the pressing need now more than ever for stronger powers for UK authorities to restrict the actions of individuals who may abuse vulnerable children in the UK and abroad. The proposals in the draft Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, strongly supported by ECPAT UK, will go further towards preventing sexual abuse of children by UK nationals across the world. New measures proposed in the Bill – Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPO) and Sexual Risk Orders (SRO) – will give police greater powers to place a range of restrictions on individuals depending on the nature of the case, such as limiting their internet use, preventing them from being alone with a child under 16 or preventing travel abroad. The orders can be made by a court on conviction or application to the magistrates’ court by the National Crime Agency or police court based on the intelligence they have on the person who poses a risk of sexual harm in the UK or abroad.

About ECPAT UK

ECPAT UK is a leading children’s rights charity working on the issues of child exploitation and child trafficking. Our campaigns have been responsible for new legislation that enables the prosecution of British nationals for crimes committed abroad. ECPAT UK works with police and the travel and tourism industry but much more work needs to be done to safeguard children no matter where they live. www.ecpat.org.uk

About the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

ECPAT UK supported Nicola Blackwood MP's Childhood Lost campaign to amend the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill to introduce new prevention powers for police to put a stop to the sexual exploitation of children. For more information about the amendment and the campaign, visit www.childhoodlost.co.uk

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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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