THE UK’s leading child protection group is calling for Spain to tighten the recruitment process of English teachers.
The plea by The Safeguarding Alliance aims to protect the country against a British legal loophole that has allowed potentially hundreds of British paedophiles to find work in Spanish schools.
The group have been campaigning for several years to close this very dangerous loophole in the UK that allows registered sex offenders to name their name by deed poll, evade all authorities and travel overseas and now they have called on Spain to take action.
An Olive Press investigation recently revealed how easy it was for a convicted British paedophile to change his identity, move to Spain and find work as a teacher in several Madrid schools where he was arrested for abusing at least 36 children.
We reported how Ben Lewis, 31, had changed his name by deed poll, applied for a new British passport, and dodged criminal record checks despite being on the UK’s sex offenders register.
Police in Spain issued a statement last month describing Lewis – AKA Ben David or Ben David Rose – as ‘a dangerous child sexual predator’.
The National Police press release ruled that he had used his position as a teacher at private schools in Madrid to gain access to children whom he photographed and filmed.
He then disseminated the sick material on paedophile forums on the dark web around the world.
Emily Konstantas, CEO of The Safeguarding Alliance, applauded the Olive Press for highlighting the issue:
“The Ben Lewis case as revealed by the Olive Press highlights this loophole and as shocking as this is, it is nothing new and unfortunately represents just the tip of the iceberg as to the magnitude of this problem.”
She warned: “Whilst the status quo remains in situ this significant and very dangerous safeguarding loophole will continue to pose a threat, not just to UK Nationals, but to the rest of the world putting children and those most vulnerable at risk,” she warned.
“There are potentially hundreds – if not thousands – of known sex offenders slipping under the radar in the UK to seek work abroad where they can continue to abuse children,” she continued.
“This loophole is arguably the biggest safeguarding scandal the world has ever seen and there is an opportunity for Spain to lead the way in tackling it at a global level,” she said.
Her organisation wants Spain to introduce the need to present an original birth certificate alongside a passport and criminal record checks that would allow potential employers to unearth a change of identity.
“It’s a simple way to provide that extra check,” she insisted.
“But this is not the whole solution. Registered sex offender name change is not a new phenomenon therefore it requires a full review into past, current and any future failings relating to this loophole.
“The severity and danger this loophole presents to the whole world cannot be underestimated.”
An extensive report by The Safeguarding Alliance is being used to lobby the UK parliament for a legal change in the management of registered sex offenders.
It explains how the current system relies on the registered sex offender to notify the police with details of any name change, alongside any change of address and passport information.
“Currently the onus lies solely with the offender and although it is an offence to fail to notify, one could argue this is not a deterrent as the offender already has the propensity to commit very serious crimes,” states the report, seen by the Olive Press.
Through extensive research and case law The Safeguarding Alliance has identified that offenders are not notifying as required and are continuing to abuse children by changing their names and obfuscating their identities as seen through the case of Ben Lewis/Rose absconding overseas to continue to abuse.
“As a result, the effectiveness of important legislation, the Sex Offenders Register, the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, the DBS are undermined and effectively rendered redundant,” it states.
“The case of Ben Lewis/Rose highlights why Spain should be aware of this very serious safeguarding loophole and should pioneer an international movement to protect its children from those abusers who slip under the radar using the name change loophole,” Konstantas added.
THE DEED POLL LOOPHOLE
In the United Kingdom a person does not need to follow an official process to start using a new name, but they require a ‘deed poll’ to apply for or to change official documents such as a new passport.
This can be done simply and easily online for little or no cost in a process that takes no longer than 15 minutes to process and can even be completed from a prison cell.
Under section 84 of the Sexual Offences Act of 2003, an offender must report a name change within three working days to the police, and failure to so is a criminal offence which could result in a term not exceeding five years imprisonment.
However, evidence demonstrates that not every registered sex offender will act with honesty and report a change of name as required.
Safeguarding Alliance discovered through Freedom of Information requests to 16 of the UK’s 46 police forces that 913 people with sex offence convictions had gone missing after changing their names and not informing police.
- Police in Spain reveal details of arrest of British paedophile teacher working in Madrid
- LESSONS NEEDED: How did a convicted British paedophile move to Spain, dodge criminal record checks and find work as an English teacher?