Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse Publishes Report

9th January 2020

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has today published its report on Phase 2 of the Children Outside the UK investigation. A copy of the report can be found on the Inquiry’s website. The report sets out the Inquiry’s conclusions and recommendations for reform of the legal measures designed to protect children outside the UK from sexual abuse by those from, or with links to, England and Wales.

Simpson Millar’s Public Law Team acted for Child Redress International (Child Redress), an organisation helping child victims of transnational sex crimes in Southeast Asia access remedies. Child Redress was a Core Participant in the investigation and made submissions before the Inquiry in public hearings that took place in February 2019. Child Redress provided evidence to the Inquiry about the under-utilisation of civil orders and their inadequacy in preventing and notifying foreign authorities of foreign travel by individuals known to the UK authorities as posing a risk to children abroad. Child Redress also made submissions on the use of section 72 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which enables the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute UK nationals and residents in England and Wales for child sexual offences committed abroad.

One of the concerns raised by Child Redress before the Inquiry in respect of section 72 orders was the insufficient support provided to countries investigating child sexual offences committed by British nationals and individuals known to the UK. The Inquiry recognised that there is a “need to ensure effective cooperation between law enforcement agencies internationally”, which includes the requirement of “an adequate number” of international liaison officers in high-risk countries. The Inquiry also acknowledged that section 72 is “relatively rarely used” and noted the requirement for “increased awareness of section 72 by police forces in England and Wales, to be achieved through guidance and training.”

In relation to the use of civil orders, the Inquiry found that “the number of civil orders made restricting foreign travel must increase” to reduce the risks posed by known sex offenders travelling abroad. The Inquiry stated in its report that more time would be needed to see whether the complete ban on registered child sex offenders travelling abroad introduced in Australia in 2017 was effective before the UK should commit to adopting similar reforms, but that a “change in the approach to the use of civil orders is necessary to ensure that they are used more extensively”.

Emma Day, Chair of Trustees at Child Redress said: “We welcome the Inquiry’s investigation report, which has highlighted the full scale of sexual abuse of children outside the by UK nationals and residents and the protection gaps for child victims. We commend the UK government for taking a leadership role internationally to tackle the worst forms of transnational crimes against children. We urge the government to move forward with the Inquiry’s recommendation to introduce more radical measures to increase the number of foreign travel restrictions made. We are encouraged that the National Crime Agency and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have confirmed that they have abandoned their policy of using section 72 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 as a measure of ‘last resort’. We look forward to working with partners in Southeast Asia to ensure that British perpetrators are brought to account and that child victims and survivors receive their right to a remedy.”

The Inquiry was set up in 2014 to examine how public bodies and other non-state institutions handled their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and make recommendations for change in the future.

The Children Outside the UK investigation is one of several examined by the Inquiry and comprised a number of case studies scrutinising institutional failures in connection with the abuse of children outside the UK.

Child Redress was being represented by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Keina Yoshida from Doughty Street Chambers, instructed by Silvia Nicolaou Garcia and Elizabeth Smith from Simpson Millar.

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