In Brief

UK launches global sex offender register

Government teams up with police and Interpol to track sex predators in the foreign aid sector

The UK has launched a pioneering global sex offender register aimed at rooting out sexual predators working in the aid sector.

Working in tandem with Interpol and the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Criminal Records Office (Acro), the Department for International Development (DFID) has launched a programme called Soteria, after the Greek goddess of protection. It aims to be a “one-stop shop” for charities to check the criminal records of present and potential employees.

The five-year project, which will be kickstarted with £2m of UK aid, will operate from two hubs in Africa and Asia, and harness Interpol’s green-notice system, which issues international alerts over those “considered to be a threat to public safety”.

The first year will focus on testing an online platform and will also provide a secure online profile to upload concerns about employees - who could be hit with travel restrictions if placed under investigation.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said the register was part of a “concerted global effort” to tackle the issue, which made headlines earlier this year after a scandal about sexual predators working for Oxfam and Save the Children led MPs to conclude abuse in the aid sector had reached “epidemic” levels.

It comes as a new report from the Charity Commission found that there was “significant and systemic” under-reporting of abuse by charities working in the UK and abroad.

Speaking to The Times, Mordaunt said “the most shocking thing [about the Oxfam scandal] was the inadequacy of that organisation’s response”.

“The attitude and the culture set by the leaders of that organisation at the time demanded a big response and that response had to be wider than one organisation because this is a global problem,” she said.

The programme will “raise awareness, toughen criminal record checks across the sector internationally, and improve information-sharing between law enforcement agencies”, says The Independent. DFID hopes it will stop abuse by preventing high-risk suspects from being hired and increasing the chances of them being arrested.

Recommended

Long Covid: the symptoms, the treatment and who is most at risk
A Covid patient is wheeled into hospital
Fact file

Long Covid: the symptoms, the treatment and who is most at risk

Fact check: does a pint a day really keep the doctor away?
binge drinking
In Depth

Fact check: does a pint a day really keep the doctor away?

Blair’s hair: Brad Pitt or Gandalf?
Tony Blair
In Brief

Blair’s hair: Brad Pitt or Gandalf?

‘Voters like a spot of island nation-state jingoism’
French fishing boats protest in St Helier harbour, Jersey
Instant Opinion

‘Voters like a spot of island nation-state jingoism’

Popular articles

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?
Night Tube Sadiq Khan
In Depth

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?

Laurence Fox to Count Binface: the most colourful London mayor candidates
Count Binface
Behind the scenes

Laurence Fox to Count Binface: the most colourful London mayor candidates

TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
Chris Rock stars in the fourth series of Fargo
In Review

TV crime dramas to watch in 2021