A new ECPAT UK expert paper has said that UK legislation is largely ineffective to protect children abroad from travelling UK sex offenders.

Despite the UK's strengthened legal powers to combat child sexual exploitation, children abroad remain acutely vulnerable to UK travelling abusers, the paper argues, due to weak extraterritorial provisions and limited UK investigative collaboration with EU and international law enforcement.

The paper, entitled Developments in the UK’s Response to Child Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation, calls for strengthened multi-agency international cooperation, mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse offences by UK offenders abroad and the establishment of a national investigation unit to tackle extraterritorial child sexual abuse. 

CLICK HERE to read the expert paper

UK offenders continue to pose an acute threat to vulnerable children overseas. Since its inception, ECPAT UK has investigated or documented nearly 200 child sexual abuse cases abroad involving British offenders. In 2015, 154 British nationals were detained in prisons abroad for child sex offences.

Yet, as of May 2013, there were only 2 successful prosecutions of British nationals under UK extra-territorial law. According to the US Trafficking in Persons report, the UK Government also fails to provide data on the number of convictions it has secured against UK nationals sexually abusing children abroad. 

Bharti Patel, CEO, ECPAT UK, said: “The UK must recognise that it has a responsibility and duty to respect the rights of children everywhere as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Government is also responsible for the welfare and protection of children when they are at risk of exploitation by UK nationals and UK companies. It is shocking that the UK Government continues to ignore the risks its offenders pose to vulnerable children the world over. We need bold leadership to truly tackle this growing scandal.”