The Italian Postal and Communications Police (Polizia Postale e delle Comunicazioni) with the support of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) hosted the first Victim Identification Taskforce (VIDTF) workshop at the Criminal Police Central Directorate in Italy. The aim of the workshop was to enhance cooperation at national and international level when identifying child sexual abuse victims and perpetrators.
It was the first time that an EU Member State organised a national VIDTF workshop with the support of Europol. Postal and Communications Police brought together 25 specialists in Rome from both regional departments and the Central Service of Postal and Communications Police.
For 11 sets of images analysed during this workshop depicting 6 victims, the specialists were able to determine the likely countries of production. These countries were informed and started investigations to identify perpetrators and safeguard the victims.
The specialists used a specific collaborative approach, analysing together over 224 000 images and videos targeted for this event, along with criminal intelligence, to find and exploit vital clues. More than 100 specific sets of analysed data have been uploaded to the International Child Sexual Exploitation Database (ICSE) hosted at Interpol. This allows investigators with access to ICSE to contribute to further investigative efforts.
Identifying victims of child sexual exploitation and abuse is a priority for police services across the world. Child victims are re-victimised when their abusers record the crimes, and even further when these recordings are disseminated online across the globe.
Law Enforcement’s efforts are challenged by the huge and increasing amount of child abuse material circulated online and by the technical resources available to hide the criminal traces and identities of both victims and perpetrators. Moreover, the number of children being sexually exploited is rising, as the offenders often organised in criminal networks are increasingly disseminating online child sexual abuse material depicting new victims.
By gathering and coordinating a group of national specialists in victim identification, the rollout of the national VIDTF in Italy aims to develop tactics and investigative techniques that can be implemented across the country, so that children victims of this heinous crime will have a better chance of being identified and safeguarded.