The National Crime Agency (NCA), in conjunction with the British Embassy Bucharest, is launching a new weapon to combat the exploitation and abuse of children in Romania by travelling British child sex offenders.
The International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC) has been developed to target British nationals and residents who may be seeking to travel and work overseas in order to sexually abuse children.
An ICPC can only be issued following checks made against police information and intelligence databases. It aims to provide reassurance that staff employed in schools and voluntary organisations do not have a UK criminal record that makes them unsuitable to work with children.
The launch of the ICPC in Romania is the culmination of months of close co-operation between the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and Romanian partners.
The certificate is already being used in 74 countries worldwide and has been officially launched in Kenya, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Ukraine, Spain, India and Poland. To date, a total of 13,000 applications have been received by the NCA’s CEOP Command.
Alongside the launch, the National Crime Agency’s CEOP Command will be hosting a Safeguarding Workshop for social workers and school counsellors from across Romania to share advice on protecting children in their care.
Law enforcement and prosecution representatives from Romania and 10 neighbouring countries will also attend a 5-day regional conference hosted by the National Crime Agency at the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC). They will share best practice and knowledge around tackling the issues of online child sexual abuse and exploitation and cyber enabled crime, which often span borders.
Nicola Hawkins, from the National Crime Agency, said:
Offenders go to huge lengths to present a respectable front by becoming active members of the community in places like schools and churches, so the ICPC puts that respectability under the spotlight. “The conference with law enforcement officials from southeast Europe is an excellent step forward in fostering closer international working on child sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as cyber-enabled crime.
We’re also hosting a safeguarding workshop for those who work with children so that they are better equipped to support young people who are being exploited or abused.
We look forward to continuing to work with the Romanian authorities to build on this important work.
To coincide with this activity, the National Crime Agency’s CEOP Command has worked with Vodafone Romania to arrange for 400,000 texts, containing advice on how to stay safe online, to be sent to its network of users. The texts are being match-funded by Vodafone and the NCA.
Virgil Spiridon, Deputy Inspector General of The Romanian Police, who are supporting the week of activity, said:
Romania is a regional leader in combating organised crime and for the Romanian Police combating cybercrime and rescuing victims of this type of illegal activity are top priorities.
I am confident that this conference will add value to the cooperation that we, as partners, have in combating computer crimes and that together we can ensure a secure future for our fellow citizens.
Catalin Cretu, Subregional Manager for Romania, Croatia, Slovenia - Visa Europe, who are funding the week’s events alongside the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said:
Visa Europe’s aim is to protect young people and empower them to fulfill a positive role in society and we are proud to support NCA CEOP Command in its mission to tackle child sexual abuse through our expertise and network across the region.
More than a half of the households in Romania have internet access and young people who spend most of their time online are the most vulnerable in the virtual world. We believe this initiative will help combat the exploitation of children and make a difference to online child protection in Romania, by sharing cyber intelligence and extending the cross-border cooperation between law enforcement organisations and authorities.
Mr. Cristian Duţă, Director for Operations of SELEC (Southeast European Law Enforcement Center), declared:
Trafficking in persons, children in particular, is a global phenomenon that is growing at alarming rates throughout the world and bears on a range of major national security, human rights, criminal justice, social, economic, migration, gender, public health, and labour issues. It affects virtually every country in the world, either as a country of origin, transit or destination, being one of the most lucrative forms of international criminality.
SELEC will continue to upgrade its operational capabilities in order to support the Member States in successfully conducting joint investigations and providing strategic analysis covering the phenomenon of trafficking in persons, which represents a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. On the other side, our Center is an efficient platform for exchange of information, experiences and good practices with the aim of ensuring an effective and coherent cooperation with the Member States and Partners for the prevention and combating of all types of trans-border crimes, including trafficking in persons and child online exploitation and abuse.