Britain calls child sex trade summit

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BRITAIN IS to bring together the governments from 25 countries to secure international co-operation in the fight against child prostitution and child abuse.

Government officials and police officers from countries in Western Europe and South-east Asia will meet with representatives of voluntary organisations in London in October.

The conference, organised by the Foreign Office, follows a report in The Independent last month showing that a law introduced to allow British courts to try paedophiles who abused children overseas had not led to a single prosecution.

Derek Fatchett, the Foreign Office minister, said new measures were planned. "Just as with trying to prevent football hooligans from travelling abroad, there are civil liberties difficulties, but we will see if we can toughen things up," he said. "One of the main ways of toughening up will be sharing intelligence between the police forces. We want to ensure that as soon as these people get off the plane, the local police know who they are and can watch where they go."

As the conference was announced yesterday, campaigners against paedophiles called for dialogue to be matched by actions enabling police to monitor sex attackers overseas.

"There are still tremendous gaps in the paedophile register," said Christine Beddoe, co- ordinator of End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking. She said offences committed overseas must be recorded on the register and that registered paedophiles must be required to notify police of foreign travel. Ms Beddoe added that sex tourism did not merely exist in South- east Asia. Three British paedophiles, with records of sex crimes in the UK, were able to move to Ireland and continue their activities without the Irish police being aware of their presence.

One notorious British paedophile, Warwick Spinks, 33, was recently found to be running an accommodation agency in Slovenia. He was released from prison last July after 30 months of a 7-year sentence for abducting a 14-year-old boy and selling him to a Dutch brothel. Spinks refused to sign the paedophile register. He has since moved between a series of addresses in Europe.

Kate Lowes, of Stop Paedophiles Exploiting and Abusing Kids, said photographs must be attached to the register because child abusers often change their names. "At the moment our register is a lion without teeth," she said.

Officers from the Metropolitan and Durham police forces havebeen seconded to the Philippines, Thailand and Sri Lanka to advise on investigating sex crimes against children.

Partly due to overseas political pressure, the authorities in some South- east Asian countries have begun prosecuting Western sex tourists. In May, British paedophile James Darling, 47, was sentenced to 33 years after renting a house in Thailand and taking 8- to 15-year-old gypsy boys to deserted islands where he abused them.

But the Sex Offenders Act 1997, which allowed British sex tourists to be prosecuted in British courts, has not led to any prosecutions, mainly due to the logistical difficulties of bringing witnesses to court.

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