Inquiry report finds gaps in UK legal system are allowing known offenders to sexually abuse children abroad

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published its second report in its Protection of Children Outside the UK investigation, focusing on the legal measures designed to prevent British child sex abusers from offending overseas. The report finds that offenders from England and Wales are travelling to commit extensive abuse of children across the world, including in eastern Asia and Africa. 

The Inquiry concluded that civil orders are not being used effectively to stop offenders visiting countries where poverty and corruption leaves children vulnerable to sexual exploitation.  The Inquiry additionally found that the disclosure and barring system, including the International Child Protection Certificate which overseas institutions can request when recruiting British nationals, is confusing, inconsistent and in need of reform.  The Inquiry has highlighted the need for increased awareness among police forces of section 72 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to ensure the prosecution of British nationals and residents for child sexual offences committed outside the UK. 

The Inquiry has made five recommendations to government, including measures aimed at restricting foreign travel of sex offenders more frequently, substantially extending the reach of the Disclosure and Barring Service overseas and the introduction of a national plan of action on child sexual abuse outside the UK. 

Doughty Street’s Henrietta Hill QC and Antonia Benfield are counsel to this investigation, alongside Julia Faure Walker. 

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Keina Yoshida act for two Core Participants in this investigation, ECPAT UK (instructed by Zubier Yazdani, Deighton Pierce Glynn) and Child Redress International (instructed by Silvia Nicolaou Garcia, Simpson Millar). Aswini Weereratne QC acts for the British Council. 

There has been widespread media coverage of this issue on the BBC and the Mail Online, and also in print by The Guardian, The Times, the Metro and The Telegraph