Collaborators: United to stop child sex tourism

Ecpat UK made the headlines last month with its report into child trafficking.

In 1994 the fight against child sex tourism was high on the agenda for many charities. A group of charities with the same urge to campaign for laws to protect children and prosecute British nationals who sexually abuse minors abroad formed the coalition called Ecpat UK.

The campaign grew into a permanent organisation fighting against the sexual exploitation of children. It is now registered as a charity in its own right.

Christine Beddoe, director of Ecpat, says: "The issues that were emerging at the time from international media attention got everyone together. It was seen as a far better use of resources and energy to work together in a focused way."

The charity's success is built on the different strengths its members offer. Those members include organisations that deliver programmes for vulnerable children, campaigning and lobbying charities and human rights groups.

To accommodate this diversity, Ecpat UK has had to learn to be adaptable.

It is structured so that the member charities act as an advisory board to a separate board of trustees, allowing the former to give their input but Ecpat UK to take responsibility for putting plans into action.

The organisation is relaxed about membership 'churn'. "We are always open to new charities, and are not a closed network," says Beddoe. "Priorities shift and people come and go."

Ecpat UK has recently gained headlines for a report revealing that 80 victims of child trafficking have been taken into care in the UK in the past three years. It launched a report into child trafficking in London a few years ago; when it wanted to expand the investigation, Save the Children helped it liaise with social services in the north. "We would never be able to do all this without the input of the charities," says Beddoe.

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