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Recommendations - Children Outside the United Kingdom Phase 2 investigation report

These recommendations were made in the Children Outside the United Kingdom Phase 2 investigation report.

National action plan addressing child sexual abuse overseas

Recommendation

The Home Office should coordinate the development of a national plan of action addressing child sexual abuse and exploitation overseas by UK nationals and residents of England and Wales, involving input from all lead governmental agencies in the field.

Responses

On 21 January 2021, the Home Office confirmed that it will implement this recommendation as part of the UK Government’s Tackling Child Sexual Abuse strategy. The strategy sets out the Government’s whole system approach to tackling child sexual abuse, including working internationally to prevent child sexual abuse and tackling transnational child sex offenders (TSCOs). The strategy also sets out the Home Office’s national plan of action for tackling TSCOs, which includes: collaborating with the National Crime Agency (NCA), intelligence community and third sector; and commissioning the NCA to produce a list of high-risk countries where children overseas are considered to be at risk of sexual abuse and exploitation from UK nationals and residents. 

Use of foreign travel restriction orders to restrict travel to high risk countries

Recommendation

The Home Office should bring forward legislation providing for the establishment and maintenance by the National Crime Agency of a list of countries where children are considered to be at high risk of sexual abuse and exploitation from overseas offenders. This list should be kept under regular review. 

The list of countries should be made available to the police, and used routinely to help identify whether a person who has been charged with sexual offences against a child poses a risk to children overseas based on their travel history and/or plans. If the person is considered to pose a risk of sexual harm to children overseas, the police should submit an application for a foreign travel restriction order under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

The list of countries should be admissible in court, and used when considering whether a foreign travel restriction order should be made under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and if so, to which countries it should apply.

Responses

On 21 January 2021, the Home Office confirmed that it will bring forward the necessary legislation to give effect to this recommendation when parliamentary time allows. To deliver on this recommendation, the Home Office has commissioned the National Crime Agency (NCA) to produce a list of countries where children overseas are considered to be at high risk of sexual abuse and exploitation from UK nationals and residents. The list will be made available to the police, the NCA and the courts to assist them in considering whether a prohibition on foreign travel is necessary as part of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order or Sexual Risk Order.

Extension of DBS enhanced certificates to work outside the UK

Recommendation

The Home Office should introduce legislation permitting the Disclosure and Barring Service to provide enhanced certificates to UK nationals and residents of England and Wales applying for (i) work or volunteering with UK-based organisations, where the recruitment decision is taken outside the UK or (ii) work or volunteering with organisations based outside the UK, in each case where the work or volunteering would be a regulated activity if in the UK.

Responses

On 21 January 2021, the Home Office noted that under current arrangements, individuals applying to work in a school or organisation outside the UK where they will be in regular contact with children can apply for an International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC). The Home Office notes that the information provided on an ICPC is broadly similar to that provided on an Enhanced Certificate. In addition, the Home Office notes that criteria which needs to be met in order to obtain an ICPC is simpler and easier for foreign employers to apply in practice. The Home Office considers the most effective way of addressing the lack of clarity for employers in the distinction between the ICPC and DBS is to build on the existing system. The Home Office stated that it will continue to work with the ACRO Criminal Records Office to publicise the existence of the ICPC and to improve employers’ understanding of it and when it can be used, particularly in the aid sector through existing channels.

Mandatory DBS certificates for UK nationals and residents of England and Wales working with children overseas

Recommendation

The Home Office should introduce legislation making it mandatory for: 

(a) all UK nationals and residents of England and Wales to provide a prospective employer overseas with an enhanced DBS certificate before undertaking work with children overseas which if in the UK would be a regulated activity and

(b) UK government departments and agencies to require their overseas partners to ensure that UK nationals and residents of England and Wales obtain an enhanced DBS certificate before undertaking work with children overseas which if in the UK would be a regulated activity.

Responses

On 21 January 2021, the Home Office noted that the first part of this recommendation would require foreign partners to undertake checks as if they were in England and Wales, with no regard for their domestic requirements. The Home Office stated this approach would require extraterritorial legislation, which would be difficult to monitor and enforce for compliance. The Home Office stated that it will continue to publicise the existence of the International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC) to workers and employers to improve safeguarding standards across the aid sector. 

For the second part of the Inquiry’s recommendation, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is working on three initiatives to strengthen the employment cycle across the aid sector that aim to prevent individuals with a known history of misconduct from working in the sector, regardless of their nationality. Together, they will help employers make better informed hiring decisions and prevent perpetrators moving around undetected.

Guidance on the disclosure and barring scheme for work and volunteering outside the UK

Recommendation

The Home Office should ensure explanatory guidance is issued, providing clarity to recruiting organisations and individuals concerning the use of the Disclosure and Barring Service scheme for work and volunteering outside the UK.

Responses

On 21 January 2021, the Home Office confirmed that the DBS currently signposts applicants to the International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC) if their work abroad makes them ineligible for DBS certificates. The Home Office stated that it will work with the DBS to ensure that this message is reinforced in their guidance and the use of ICPCs is encouraged, as part of wider safeguarding policies and practices, where applicable. 

Recommendations process

You can find out about our process for monitoring responses by visiting our web page.

Investigation report

View the Children Outside the United Kingdom Phase 2 investigation report in its entirety.

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