The legacy of years of indifference to child sex tourism is putting British children at risk, according to a report.
Ecpat UK, which campaigns to stop child abuse, also warned that paedophiles convicted of offences against children abroad are escaping UK sanctions because of loopholes in the British legal system.
Home Secretary Theresa May should act to close a loophole which enables sex offenders to travel abroad for up to three days without informing the authorities, Ecpat UK said.
Director Christine Beddoe said the charity was “deeply concerned” that “the legacy of years of indifference to child sex tourism is placing British children at risk”.
“Data about British sex offenders abroad is patchy, rarely shared between authorities and it is uncertain how much ever gets on to the UK criminal records data base,” she said.
“The Government simply don’t know how many British sex offenders have been prosecuted abroad and then slip back into the UK undetected.
“Despite their ongoing risk to children and the fact that many of these individuals are known to authorities both in the UK and in the country in which the abuse took place, these individuals often fall off the radar.”
Its report – Off The Radar: Protecting Children From British Sex Offenders Who Travel – also called for a cross-Government strategy to deal effectively with the investigation and prosecution of child sexual offences committed abroad.
It went on: “We are concerned about the vulnerability of children in international schools and orphanages because of the lack of information-sharing between jurisdictions, and the fact that international organisations are unable to access the criminal records-checking procedures that would be expected as standard procedure by UK institutions.”
Ecpat UK stands for End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of children for sexual purposes.