Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Orders 'fail to protect children'

The growing availability of high-speed internet around the globe is likely to increase the threat to children, Ceop warned

Civil court orders aimed at stopping sex offenders from preying on children after they are released from jail are "not fit for purpose" and are failing to protect children from sexual abuse, a report has found.

The report, which follows a review of civil prevention orders, said current legislation is "over-complicated" and that civil orders, including those which ban people from travelling abroad, are failing to deliver. It follows a review commissioned by Peter Davies, from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) into the use of civil court orders.

Its report, obtained by the BBC, comes as new figures from Ceop showed a record number of children were protected from sexual abusers in the past year.

The report into civil court orders, carried out by child protection experts including police and lawyers and experts from Ceop, said: "The existing legislative regime is not fit for purpose and is failing to deliver the quality of protection children deserve from sexual abuse. The statutory regime is not fit for purpose in relation to many high risk offenders, and most particularly insofar as it relates to FTOs (Foreign Travel Orders)."

It said current legislation was "over-complicated", and added: "The number of recorded civil prevention orders reflected in the review are grossly disproportionately low relative to the numbers of offenders representing a significant risk of harm to children."

The authors said the system should be simplified so that three forms of prevention orders are replaced by a single order. They also recommended that the range of authorities that could apply for such orders is extended to include those in Ceop or the National Crime Agency.

Christine Beddoe, one of the authors, told BBC Radio 4: "Between 2008 and July 2012, 303 British sex offenders had been arrested abroad which is a phenomenal amount and clearly shows something is not working", adding: "There's a lack of information and understanding of what can be done."

The report comes as new figures from Ceop showed a record number of children were protected from sexual abusers in the past year. The child protection agency safeguarded 790 children in 2012/13, an increase of 85% on the previous year. Ceop received 18,887 reports of abuse in the past 12 months, which was 14% more than the year before.

It warned that the growing availability of high-speed internet around the globe is likely to increase the threat to children.

Ceop chief executive Peter Davies said: "Despite our successes, we aren't complacent. We recognise that the world is constantly changing and offenders will continue to seek new ways to abuse children, which is why our work with partners around the globe is constantly evolving to ensure we're always one step ahead of abusers."

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