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Protection of Children Outside the United Kingdom

An inquiry into the extent to which institutions and organisations based in England and Wales have taken seriously their responsibilities to protect children outside the United Kingdom from sexual abuse.

In recent years, grave allegations have emerged regarding child sexual abuse by individuals working for British institutions and organisations abroad.

This investigation will look at institutions based in England and Wales which recruit people to work abroad, including the Armed Forces, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British Council and private companies and charitable organisations. It will examine the extent to which such institutions have failed in their duty to protect children abroad by, for example, employing individuals who should not work with children.

We will also investigate how effectively the UK justice system is equipped to address the potential for abuse overseas by those known to authorities in England and Wales as posing a risk to children. Further, we will consider the adequacy of Whitehall responses to reports of institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse in overseas territories.

Case study - Child Migration Programmes

The Inquiry decided to divide this broad investigation into a number of narrower case studies. The first of these will be a case study investigating institutional failings of organisations based in England and Wales relating to the sexual abuse of children involved in child migration programmes. 

Child migration programmes involved children being moved from care or from their families in England and Wales and placed in institutions or with families abroad by government departments, public authorities and private and/or charitable organisations in England and Wales.

This case study had its own public hearings, details of which can be found in our hearings section

Child Migration Programmes case study - Background Statement

Case Study - Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPOs) and Sexual Risk Orders (SROs)

The second case study in this investigation will be a case study investigating the adequacy of the civil framework for the prevention of, and notification to foreign authorities of, foreign travel by individuals known to the UK authorities as posing a risk to children.  This framework includes the powers to make Foreign Travel Orders (FTOs) and Risk of Sexual Harm Orders (RSHOs) that were set out in the Sexual Offences Act 2003; as well as Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPOs) and Sexual Risk Orders (SROs) provided for by the Anti-­Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Further details of this case study are provided in the COTU Investigation: March ​2018​ ​Update​ ​Note

Next Steps:

A preliminary hearing in this investigation will take place in the afternoon of Wednesday 6 June at the Inquiry hearing centre, 18 Pocock Street, London, SE1 0BW

An update note has been published and Core Participant applications are invited in this investigation. 

Public hearings for this investigation will commence on 11 February 2019.

The Inquiry is encouraging all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experience

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