Children outside the UK and the internet

The IICSA has called for core participant applications in respect of its case study on child migration programmes, part of its ‘Protection of Children Outside the United Kingdom’ investigations. The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has meanwhile launched dedicated web portals in 12 British overseas territories which will allow for anonymous reporting of images and videos of child sexual abuse. The conviction yesterday of Richard Huckle for abuse in Malaysia of up to 200 children between ages six months to 12 years stands as evidence of the depth of the problems of overseas abuse and the internet.

Huckle, age 30, was charged with 91 offences relating to 23 children. He admitted 71 of the charges. He worked as a freelance photographer but first visited Malaysia on a gap year and groomed children there whilst undertaking voluntary work, presenting himself as a practising Christian. He made use of the dark web to publish his indecent pictures and videos. He was arrested following a police operation straddling Europe and Australia.

The IWF portals are aimed to try and address the huge rise in the number of illegal child abuse images appearing on the internet in the past two years. Any reports generated in the territories, which include Mauritius, Uganda and Gibraltar, will be assessed and passed to the police. In 2015 the IWF positively identified and had removed from the internet 68092 reports of child sexual abuse images or videos.

The IICSA has two investigations which these matters are of relevance to. The first is its Children outside the UK investigation. As part of this it has announced a case study on migration and has called for core participants. Applications are to be submitted by 24 June and a preliminary hearing will be held on 28 July.

The second investigation of relevance is in to the internet and the technological developments which have created new opportunities for offending against children. Core participants have not yet been called for in this investigation.


Written by Paula Jefferson, Partner

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