Protecting children from actual and virtual abuse focus of INTERPOL expert meeting

INTERPOL on September 7, 2011 released the following:

“LYON, France – Better protecting children from all types of criminality, including abuse and trafficking, through the provision of technical tools to specialist police was one of the key areas for action identified by the INTERPOL specialist group on crimes against children meeting at the General Secretariat headquarters.

Bringing together 190 experts from 52 countries, the three-day meeting (5 – 7 September) also identified as a priority the creation of regional working parties for the Middle East and Africa to assist law enforcement deal with the rapid expansion of access to the Internet and the wider availability of online child abuse images and video.

The proposals are part of a strategic plan aimed at identifying and meeting the needs of investigators around the world, particularly in ensuring that specialist skills are developed in countries where dedicated police units do not yet exist.

Building awareness of travelling sex offenders, particularly through increased use of INTERPOL’s Green Notices – which provide warnings and information about persons who have committed criminal offences and are likely to repeat these crimes in other countries – and coordination for intelligence-driven operations in destination countries were also highlighted for future action.

In addition to general sessions, the conference also included specialized sub group meetings focusing on serious and violent crimes against children and on sex offenders, followed by a special victim identification workshop on 8 September.

Participants were updated on the current status and upcoming evolution of INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database which currently connects specialized investigative units in 32 countries. The ICSE database currently contains images relating to 2,345 identified victims of sexual exploitation from 41 countries, along with numerous images of victims yet to be located and rescued populate, providing a vital policing tool to assist investigators worldwide in the identification and rescue of even more victims.

“For law enforcement, child sexual abuse images are crime scenes, they are evidence that a crime has taken place and require as thorough an inspection as any physical crime location does,“ said specialised officer Anders Persson who has led the development of INTERPOL’s International child sexual exploitation image database.

“It is essential that officers investigating online child abuse are provided with the training they need to properly analyse these images to enable not only the identification of the victim so that they can be saved from an abusive situation, but also ultimately to identify those committing the crimes.

“The training and tools provided by INTERPOL ensure that experts from across the globe can pass on their skills and knowledge to other police officers, thus ensuring the highest standards of victim identification, which ultimately leads to more children being rescued from abusive situations and less images of that abuse produced,” concluded Mr Persson.

Backed by the G8 and funded by the European Commission, ICSE was launched in March 2009 as the successor to the INTERPOL Child Abuse Image Database (ICAID) which had been in use since 2001.”

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