Wednesday, 3rd April 2019

Following the landmark Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) investigation in which ECPAT UK played a central role as core participant, the Department for International Development (DFID) has committed to funding to ensure children abroad are protected from British sex offenders.

Penny Mordaunt, the UK’s International Development Secretary, has today committed £3 million in aid funding to the National Crime Agency (NCA) to investigate cases of transnational sex offenders.

For 25 years, ECPAT UK has called on the government to ensure the protection of children abroad. As core participant in the Inquiry’s investigation into the protection of children outside the UK, evidence submitted by ECPAT UK made public the failures of UK institutions to protect children abroad from sexual abuse by its citizens. Along with other participating organisations, ECPAT UK recommended to the Inquiry that the government must urgently increase resources for law enforcement to ensure proper investigations take place.

Inadequate resourcing of investigations into transnational child sexual exploitation puts vulnerable children at risk of further harm and allows offenders to commit abuse with impunity. While evidence on successful operations carried out by the National Crime Agency was presented to the Inquiry, it also heard evidence on the challenges of prosecuting offenders who sexually abuse children abroad.

This included cases such as UK sex offender Patrick Matthews, who was prosecuted for the sexual abuse of children in India, but due to delays in making formal requests to enable the witnesses to give evidence via video link, the prosecution fell apart.

Laura Durán, Senior Policy, Research and Practice Officer at ECPAT UK, said

“We welcome this commitment in aid funding, but emphasise it is vital that the government develop a comprehensive, coherent national plan to tackle this issue.

“The last time there was a national plan of action on this form of child exploitation by UK nationals was in 2001. Two decades on, it is long overdue and imperative that the government implements a national plan to ensure a robust and coordinated approach by all agencies.”


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Sinead Geoghegan, Communications and Media Manager, [email protected], 0207 607 2136