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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Children Outside the United Kingdom Phase 2 Investigation Report

D.1: Introduction

1. Disclosure and barring regimes assist employers in making safer recruitment decisions. In the context of child sexual abuse, they seek to prevent those who pose a risk of such abuse to children from working with them. These regimes can be particularly important in countries and regions where abusers are otherwise “more likely to enjoy impunity”.[1]

2. Abusers can and do obtain work with children overseas after they have been identified as posing a risk to children. For example:

2.1. Nicholas Rabet was barred from working with children in England and Wales but was able to travel to Thailand and abuse around 300 boys, having advertised his home as a place where children could play video games.[2]

2.2. Peter Walbran, a dual Australian/New Zealand national, worked at British and Australian international schools in Indonesia in the 1990s. He was convicted of abusing children and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in Indonesia. On his release, he was deported to Australia but travelled on his New Zealand passport to Thailand. He worked in a school in Thailand with 4,000 students, teaching children of the same age as those he had abused in Indonesia, before being arrested by Australian and local police.[3]

3. In 2011, the National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (NCA-CEOP) reported 33 cases of British nationals abusing children overseas in an 18-month period, 23 of whom had previous convictions for offences involving children.[4] A review of 145 convicted sex offenders in Cambodia conducted by Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) indicated that 27.6 percent had previous convictions. However, for around 70 percent of those offenders, full background information was not available. When those cases were removed from the analysis, the percentage who had previous convictions rose to 90.9 percent.[5]

4. Some offenders deliberately target institutions in countries with less developed processes for vetting staff, or set up their own charities, schools and orphanages to provide access to children for themselves and others. For example:

  • Simon Harris set up a charity arranging teaching placements in Kenyan schools for British gap-year students, from which position he groomed and sexually exploited children for years.[6]
  • In 2008, DB, a man from Edinburgh who had founded an orphanage in Albania, was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for sexually abusing children.[7]
  • APLE told us about three perpetrators (from Australia, the USA and the UK) arrested in Cambodia in 2013 who had been working with children. One had founded his own orphanage and another was a director of a shelter. Two of the three had previous convictions and one was wanted in his home country for sexual offences against children.[8]

5. If an institution’s operations are based in England and Wales and the employment decision is made here, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) regime applies.[9] For this reason, institutions such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the British Council and aid agencies based in England and Wales can and do conduct DBS checks on staff they are posting overseas who are engaged in certain activities with children, as they would for staff based in England and Wales.[10]

6. However, where institutions are based overseas, there is no requirement that comparable checks are carried out on UK nationals or residents before they can work with children.


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