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Children Outside the United Kingdom Investigation

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 - Children Outside the UK - Phase Two

The second phase of this investigation will investigate 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 are provided in the COTU Investigation: March ​2018​ ​Update​ ​Note

Following the preliminary hearing held on 6 June 2018 and consideration of submissions received from core participants, the Chair decided to expand the scope of this phase of the investigation to include: issues relating to the use and efficacy of section 72 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003; and, issues related to the statutory vetting and barring regime. Further details about this are provided in the August 2018 Decision on Scope.

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

Next Steps:

The first phase of this investigation examined Child Migration Programmes. The public hearing for that phase concluded in July 2017 and the report was published in March 2018. Recommendations made in this report can be found here.

The public hearing for the second phase of this investigation concluded in February 2019 and a report was published in January 2020 and is available to read here. Recommendations made in the Phase 2 report can be found here.

The Inquiry is encouraging all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experience via our Truth Project.

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