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Gambia: Offences against Children

Home Office written question – answered on 5th March 2020.

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Photo of Andrea Jenkyns Andrea Jenkyns Conservative, Morley and Outwood

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the reports of 31 October 2019 by the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children on the abuse by tourists of children in The Gambia, what steps the Government is taking to (a) identify and (b) prosecute British tourists that have committed that offence.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

The Government is committed to tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse wherever and however it occurs. There can be no safe space for paedophiles to operate either here or abroad and we will do all we can to keep children safe. We continue to work closely with law enforcement in the UK and international partners to stop sex offenders from travelling abroad to prey on children, close down online networks and bring offenders to justice. We announced in the 2019 Spending Round an investment of an £30 million to support UK law enforcement to bear down on child sexual exploitation and abuse.

We are also funding projects overseas to build capacity internationally against this heinous crime through Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) overseas development aid. We have sponsored a project to reduce the vulnerability of high-risk destination countries from the threat posed by UK transnational child sex offenders (TCSOs) through targeted, sustainable capacity-building in support of National Crime Agency (NCA) operational activity. The project is in its second year and will deploy a team from the NCA internationally in direct local support of international law enforcement agencies working to combat high-risk child sexual abuse and exploitation. This includes a training and mentoring programme that builds sustainable capacity locally to safeguard children and prosecute offenders in collaboration with UK and international law enforcement agencies.

In 2012, the law was strengthened to ensure that all registered sex offenders must notify the police of any foreign travel. Police are able to assess the risk an offender may pose while abroad and engage with international law enforcement or apply to the courts for a civil order to restrict foreign travel. Breach of the requirements or a civil order is a criminal offence punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment. The Government has carried out a review of the use of civil orders for transnational offenders and will draw on the findings and recommendations from the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse’ recent ‘Children Outside the UK’ report to ensure the police have the tools and powers they need to target offenders and protect children from sexual abuse.

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