A new weapon to combat the threat of UK sex offenders travelling to other countries and gaining access to children through teaching, charity or volunteering roles has been launched.
Analysis by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre of offender management cases undertaken in 2011 found that one in five were associated with roles that involved access to children. Teaching and schools-related positions were the most represented occupations or voluntary roles associated with cases of offending overseas. Since 2006, CEOP has undertaken over 1200 investigations into travelling UK sex offenders.
Many international schools, charities and other agencies overseas do not currently have access to the same level of police checks available to organisations in the UK and this has sometimes enabled sex offenders to gain positions of trust with children abroad.
‘Vital new tool for overseas schools’
CEOP has worked with the ACPO Criminal Records Office (ACRO) to launch the International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC), which CEOP believes is a vital new tool for schools and other overseas organisations in the prevention of harm to children under their care. Similar to the UK’s CRB system, the ICPC is a police check for UK nationals who are travelling and working overseas. It will help identify and screen out those who have previous convictions that make them unsuitable to be working with children.
The ICPC is designed for organisations outside the UK which don’t have access to CRB checks – although the Council of British International Schools says that it will continue to offer CRB processing to member and non-member international schools worldwide.
“There is clear evidence to suggest that serious sex offenders who are known to authorities in the UK will often seek out opportunities to work or volunteer abroad,” said Peter Davies, Chief Executive of CEOP. “In many instances this will be through teaching roles but could equally be through other occupations such as charity worker, orphanage worker or as a children’s home worker. The International Child Protection Certificate is intended to be a world-wide safeguard which will give employers and voluntary organisations reassurance that applicants have no convictions in the UK which would make them unsuitable to work with children.
“I am confident the ICPC will become an essential pre-employment or placement check to protect children overseas from UK offenders.”
Applications can be made at www.acro.police.uk/icpc