UK to help Vietnam keep British sex offenders away from local children

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United Kingdom authorities have introduced a new initiative in Vietnam, aiming to protect the nation's children from child sex offenders convicted in the UK who may be travelling or working overseas, according to the British Embassy in Hanoi.

According to a press release on Friday (February 22), the International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC) is the first criminal records check specifically designed to identify UK nationals convicted of sex crimes against children. 

The ICPC was developed by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP), a UK law enforcement body protecting children from abuse, and the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Records Office (ACRO), which produces police disclosures for various purposes.

The CEOP discovered that some overseas institutions including international schools and charities do not have access to equivalent background checks offered to UK organizations and that therefore, some sex offenders may be currently working with children in trusted positions such as teachers.   

"The International Child Protection Certificate is intended to be a worldwide safeguard which will give employers and voluntary organizations reassurance that applicants have no convictions in the UK which would make them unsuitable to work with children," said Peter Davies, Chief Executive of CEOP.

Davies said ICPC is an "essential" check to protect children before any overseas organizations employs residents of the UK. 

"I am pleased that we [UK people] are able to step up our leading role in helping to keep children safe in Vietnam by launching the International Child Protection Certificate," said Antony Stokes, the British ambassador to Vietnam.

"I hope that this initiative helps enable further strengthen the protection of children in Vietnam."

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Paul Finnis, director of Saigon Children's Charity, a Ho Chi Minh City-based British NGO that helps disadvantaged children in Vietnam told Vietweek that he supported the ICPC "wholeheartedly," adding that "all applicants from the UK looking to work with children should be happy to provide this too as it will help to demonstrate their commitment and legitimacy for working in this area.

"It would be excellent to have this available for all potential staff and volunteers and not just those from the UK," Finnis said. 

Between 2008 and 2012, 457 UK residents were arrested in several countries including France, Germany, Spain, Thailand and the US for sexual offences against children, ACRO statistics showed.

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