Keeping children safe across the world
ACRO joined an international panel of experts in protecting children from sexual exploitation during a conference in the Philippines recently.
The Keeping Children Safe conference between 22nd and 23rd September was designed to raise awareness among teachers, social workers and police about measures to prevent children becoming victims of sexual abuse.
It was organised by the British School Manila with support from the British Embassy, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Philippine National Police.
Delegates were brought together to work on establishing clear guidelines for safeguarding children in an international context, so it was a golden opportunity to raise awareness of International Child Protection Certificates (ICPCs).
The ICPC is a joint initiative between ACRO and the NCA’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Command. The certificates give overseas employers a means to check whether the people they employ to work with children have a criminal record in the UK. They contain relevant information about an individual’s previous offending and help organisations make decisions on whether or not to employ that person. In this way, the certificates help prevent convicted sex offenders gaining access to children.
ACRO’s Karen Progl (Senior Manager) and Michael Scott (Intelligence Manager) attended the two-day conference, delivering break-out sessions and exploring case studies and action planning with delegates.
Karen said: “We know convicted child sex offenders from the UK do travel to the Philippines specifically to try to get jobs working with children so they can continue offending. Schools there play a much bigger part in investigating alleged offences against children and supporting victims compared with the UK. The ICPC allows them to find out at an early stage whether there are previous convictions or intelligence in the UK that would make someone unsuitable to working with children. It’s an important tool in helping prevent child sexual exploitation and abuse.”
Karen hopes speaking at the event will have encouraged schools that aren’t already routinely using the certificates as part of their recruitment process to consider using them in the future.
Mike Scott, who heads up ACRO’s intelligence unit, said: “Karen and I were able to discuss the role of ACRO across the world and the ICPC product. We also led workshops on case studies built around recruitment and the management of risk in employing teachers.
“Overall I think that the conference enabled delegates to be more enlightened in their recruitment processes, to check CVs, and of course look to a product like the ICPC to ensure as high as possible safeguarding standards.”
Rebekah Russel, Deputy Head of the British School Manila said: “The conference had a solution-focused approach and the contributions by all were invaluable to international schools within the Philippines moving forward with their systems and procedures.
“As well as sponsoring the event, ACRO flew over two experienced and enthusiastic officers in Karen and Michael to support the event with their expertise on safer recruitment. They shared the vision and implementation of the ICPC with over 16 international schools, social workers, external counsellors and other embassy representatives.
“The two days were busy and pro-active and I’d like to thank ACRO for their ongoing support with international schools in the Philippines and congratulate them on the growing success of the ICPC scheme.”
Stephanie McCourt, the National Crime Agency’s international liaison officer based in Bangkok, said: “The National Crime Agency’s international network works closely with stakeholders in tackling the threats posed by UK offenders.
“Preventing Child Sexual Exploitation is a high priority for the NCA and the Keeping Children Safe conference in the Philippines provided an excellent platform to be clear on the risks, and how to mitigate them.
“We look forward to continuing our collaboration with ACRO and working in partnership with other international schools in the region in 2018.”
30th October 2017