Government failing to deal with sex tourists

A children’s rights body has said that the government is failing to deal with sex offenders who return to the UK after committing crimes abroad.

The report comes as former pop star Gary Glitter is set to return to the UK this week after serving a prison sentence for molesting two Vietnamese girls in 2006.

ECPAT UK, an organisation which seeks to put an end to child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of young people, has called for the government to increase cooperation with foreign governments to punish UK sex offenders who are outside Britain.

The children’s rights body said Britons had been implicated in numerous child abuses abroad, including 15 in Thailand alone, as well as offences committed in India, Ghana, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Albania

It says that the UK has prosecuted only five sex offenders since 1997 whereas the US has seen 10 times as many cases and Australia has brought charges against 25 people.

It also adds that the UK has not convicted anyone for child sex offences for the last three years and has no public reporting hotline for crimes against minors.

ECPAT also expressed concern over measures taken against UK citizens convicted for sexual abuses against children in foreign countries.

It called for offenders abroad to be returned to the UK immediately, placed on the sex offenders list and prevented from travelling abroad if they are deemed to be a threat to children.

ECPAT UK director Christine Beddoe said: “The government must take immediate steps to develop bi-lateral cooperation agreements and joint investigations with other countries to return sex offenders to the UK and give clear guidance on when travel bans should be used to protect the world’s most vulnerable children.”

A spokesman for the home office said the UK had some of the toughest laws in the world against crimes against children, adding that registered sex offenders would be asked to inform police prior to foreign travel from this autumn.