Thanks to everybody for taking the time to be here this morning!
What is exciting for us is the launch of the International Child Protection Certificate. As emphasized by Mr. Virgil Spiridon, Deputy Inspector General of the Romanian Police, today’s launch takes place in the middle of a week which is a regional conference devoted to addressing the growing threats around online child sexual exploitation. We are really delighted that law enforcement officials and other key people from 11 countries and the region have joined us here in Bucharest this week and they are represented in the audience today, sharing experiences with officials from the UK National Crime Agency and with Romanian officials.
Today’s launch has relied on the support of lots of people, beyond those in the NCA itself. We are thankful to VISA Europe who has co-sponsored this activity. Many thanks to the British Council Bucharest who have continuously provided support for the child protection initiative projects around the world, including Romania. I also want to thank Vodafone Romania who has been doing some pretty exciting things around text messaging, to tie in with the event today.
Child abuse is a really serious crime. The British government is committed to tackling it, along with key partners from Romania and elsewhere. For the last few years, the British government has been implementing a child exploitation action plan. Key elements of this plan are to raise awareness; prosecute and jail criminals; protect young people at risk; and to help victims get their lives back on track. What we are doing today at the launch of the International Child Protection Certificate is part of a program of ongoing collaboration with an international dimension, about strengthening child protection in all countries around the world. The basis of this is that we believe that our responsibility to protect children from abuse doesn’t stop at the UK’s borders. Child safety and protection is fundamental to our international collaboration and we want to ensure we do everything we can to keep children safe while British nationals are travelling, working and living overseas. The background is that we have a service in the UK, called the ‘Disclosure and Barring System’ (DBS), which is, essentially, a background check system for everybody that has a role which requires them to work directly with children. Everybody needs a DBS as part of their pre-employment checks. It is a key component of our child protection policies, encouraging safer recruitment practices. The ICPC is an international extension of this check.
British Embassies and British High Commissions around the world are coming together to raise awareness about this certificate and encourage more countries like Romania to take a step forward in protecting children from those who seek to abuse them. I should emphasise that I think it is absolutely wonderful that the English language and also the quality of the education system in the UK, from kindergarten to universities, are held in such high regard internationally. I think that is rightly so. I think we have a great language – an international language – and we have great educational systems. That does mean great opportunities for British citizens to come and teach here in Romania. British teachers currently working in Romania are doing an absolutely wonderful job. An equally great role is played by the many British NGOs who have been here and many places since the Revolution, 25 years ago, helping those from Romania who need support – often young people, including those with disabilities. I think that, through the certificate, schools and NGOs will be able to give their Romanian partners a further level of reassurance that the background checks have been done to provide an additional level of protection for both the Romanian children themselves, as well as for the British citizens and volunteers who come to Romania out of dedication to support child education and child welfare. It is our collective responsibility to protect the children in our care and I think you have all taken an important step in furthering your knowledge and understanding by coming here today.
Let us all review and enhance our child protection police and recruitment procedures to help protect more children across the world.
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