One year after exposing the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal, child protection expert Mark Williams-Thomas has gone undercover in a new documentary, Exposure: Predators Abroad, in a bid to unveil British child sex offenders who are travelling abroad to prey on vulnerable youngsters.
We don’t know how many convicted child sex offenders there are in the UK, but estimates suggest there could be as many as 65,000 – and many of them are going overseas to take advantage of weak legal systems or poverty in the country and exploit the children living there.
Mark joined This Morning to discuss a disgusting trend that sees some of these paedophiles sign up to work as teachers or with charities to get closer to children so they can abuse them.
“That’s the key; you get access to children you create the opportunity to offend and the more children you have access to, the greater the opportunity you have to offend against them,” he explained.
“What offenders are doing now is they are going to countries where either the law is quite poor or the checks are quite poor. And of course the best places to do that are orphanages, schools where they can educate. And many of these people, westerners, will come across with quite a bit of money. In our programme we show even though they are offending and giving money to the children, the money was pennies. We’re not talking £10, £20 we’re talking 30p, 40p.
“They’re very calculated, they go over and commit their offences and by and large they do not get caught.”
One of the main aims of the programme was to raise awareness about just how easily these sex offenders can get access to children, with Mark – who went undercover to live amongst the paedophiles who travel there – being offered sex several times, with children as young as nine-years-old.
One of his main worries is the fact that convicted child sex offenders are still able to travel freely after serving sentences due to a lack of foreign travel orders being in place, with Mark using paedophile Reginald Blakely as an example.
“He basically said he didn’t see anything wrong with kissing and touching young boys. Ho openly told me he saw nothing wrong with it He could leave tomorrow, go anywhere he wants. There is no travel order on him. That has to be wrong. “
Christine Beddoe, a campaigner against sexual exploitation of children, explained why the UK must take tougher action to stamp out this problem.
“We can’t forget that this isn’t just about a risk to children abroad, these offenders come back and abuse children here, so this is an issue for Britain to protect its own children by investing in the solutions and creating a policy and legislation that really works,” she explained.
“In research that’s been done, and a very good report was launched earlier this year led by eminent QC Hugh Davies, that looks at the legislation and the foreign travel orders. And the problem is the legislation is almost unworkable. It’s amazing that any of them have been used.
“What we see is the benchmark are so high many police are either worried they aren’t getting the evidence needed to take to court to get these foreign travel orders, so just aren’t applying for them.”
Listen to Mark and Christine discuss the problem fully in the video above. If any of the issues covered on This Morning have affected you check out our helplines.
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