The Government has “turned a blind eye” to sex offenders and paedophiles living in a “twilight zone” of international travel, according to a report.
Children’s rights charity ECPAT UK says Britain is failing to prevent child sex tourism, with “repeat offenders travelling from country to country and flagrantly avoiding the stringent sex offender mechanisms in the UK”.
The charity is calling for stronger co-operation with foreign governments to deport and chaperone convicted paedophiles back to the UK, so that they can be put on the sex offenders register, tracked and where necessary have travel restricted.
Paedophile and disgraced singer Gary Glitter is due to be released from prison in Vietnam and deported back to the UK on Tuesday.
The former glam rock star was jailed for sex crimes against two girls aged 10 and 11 in March 2006.
But it is understood the 64-year-old, whose real name is Paul Gadd, will not be accompanied on the flight home, which could make a stopover in Bangkok, Thailand.
Pointing out that long-haul flights, such as those from Vietnam, do not always fly direct to the UK, the report says: “To avoid offenders absconding on a stop-over it is essential to have law enforcement or diplomatic chaperones (from either country) escort the individual back to the UK.”
If Glitter does arrive in the UK, he will be met by police at the airport and required to sign the sex offenders’ register.
ECPAT says while Britain has only prosecuted five sex offenders for child sexual abuse abroad since 1997, the USA has prosecuted more than 65, and Australia has prosecuted 28.
ECPAT director Christine Beddoe says: “The Government must take immediate steps to develop bi-lateral co-operation agreements and joint investigations with other countries to return sex offenders to the UK and give clear guidance on when travel bans should be used to protect the world’s most vulnerable children.”