Between 2 and 13 November 2020, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) successfully supported efforts to identify victims of child sexual abuse through its 8th Victim Identification Taskforce. In total, 23 law enforcement experts from EU Member States and non-EU countries participated
Results: Nine confirmed victims and another two victims tentatively identified.
Participating agencies and countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, INTERPOL, Moldova, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, US ICE and US FBI.
Europol has more than 51 million (unique binary) images and video files in its database. To prepare for the operation, Europol specialists triaged a series of them for the participants to analyse. Together, the specialists assessed content depicting victims of child sexual exploitation. The investigation resulted in the identification of overlaps in cases, which enabled officers to combine efforts to locate the victims.
As a direct result of this collaboration, experts managed to evaluate more than 200 series. For 53 of these series, the country of production was likely identified and respective Member States informed so that they could start their individual national investigations. EC3 is now providing support to the partners involved to safeguard the children concerned and apprehend the offenders.
The series have been uploaded to the INTERPOL International Child Sexual Exploitation database, which will allow investigators with access to it to continue working on the datasets and increasing the chances of identifying and protecting the victims.
The participating authorities showed a high degree of flexibility in dealing with the travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and quickly adapted to the technical support provided by EC3, which allowed them to take part from their respective countries.
HOW YOU CAN HELP STOP CHILD ABUSE
In June 2017, Europol launched its crowdsourcing Stop Child Abuse - Trace An Object initiative, which stemmed from the work of the taskforce. This initiative invites the public to identify objects and places in the hope that it can lead to the identification of victims down the line. Since then, Europol has received 26 000 tips which have already led to the identification of ten children and the prosecution of three offenders.
Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, we support the 27 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organised forms of crime. We also work with many non-EU partner states and international organisations. From its various threat assessments to its intelligence-gathering and operational activities, Europol has the tools and resources it needs to do its part in making Europe safer.