Europol Coordinates International Operation Aimed at Identifying Victims of Child Abuse

19 April 2016
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Today, the Second Victim Identification Task Force (VIDTF), hosted at Europol's headquarters in The Hague, has come to a close after two weeks of intense work. Together with Europol, top experts from more than 10 EU Member States, third countries (with whom an operational agreement has been concluded) and INTERPOL joined forces to identify victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Together with its partners, Europol's co-ordinated effort in the fight against online sexual exploitation and victimisation of children has yielded significant results. Over 250 sequences of child sexual abuse images and video files have been uploaded to the INTERPOL International Child Sexual Exploitation Database and additions made to more than 300 existing sequences. In addition Europol has distributed intelligence packages to several countries to assist in the identification of victims. These actions will ensure that many more victims have a better chance of being identified and made safe from child sexual abuse. A number investigations are well advanced and should soon lead to positive outcomes for more victims.

Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, said: "The problem we are facing is global, and it requires a coordinated global response from law enforcement, the private industry and civil society. The technology and tools exist to effectively stop online child abuse, and the discussions and coordination between critical actors which need to happen, is happening. But we must do more. We therefore encourage countries to use Europol's unique tools and networks to exchange information so that every case can end in a positive outcome. This is how victims are identified and their abusers brought to justice. Operations like the one today show that the pooling of resources, knowledge and technical skills is the most effective way to identify and rescue these children. This is why it is so important that law enforcement authorities in Europe and beyond continue to invest and participate in victim identification taskforces such as this one.

The VIDTF put a focus on content contributed by various countries and agencies and has uploaded new sequences of images and video files to the International Child Sexual Exploitation database hosted at INTERPOL.

Steven Wilson, Head of Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), said: "Identifying victims of child sexual abuse is of the highest priority for police forces across the world. Offenders readily make use of technological developments to change the production and distribution channels of child sexual exploitation materials. Law enforcement needs to keep up with these developments, increase intelligence sharing and interagency cooperation to overcome the challenges of investigation of this crime type. The Victim Identification Task Force is an excellent example of international co-operation utilising the latest technology to protect children across the world. The gathering of a group of national experts in Victim Identification serves to develop tactics and investigation techniques so they can be adopted across all countries and ensure that our children are protected from abuse."

Experts from Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Romania and the UK worked with their counterparts from Australia's AFP and Task Force Argos, Canada and US FBI and ICE in a historic collaborative effort. Identifying victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation is a priority for police forces across the world.