Since Europol launched its newest crowdsourcing campaign, Stop Child Abuse – Trace an Object, exactly one year ago you have sent us almost 21 000 leads. These leads mean that law enforcement all over the world is thousands of steps closer to saving children from abusive situations or exploitation. We want to give you a big heartfelt thank you for your contributions! Europol’s Executive Director Catherine De Bolle: "It is the first time that we have used the wisdom of the general public to try to safeguard children from abuse and exploitation. With 21 000 tips and several ongoing investigations, this excellent result encourages us to incessantly continue our efforts to keep our children safe. I would like to thank every single person that took the effort of sending us information."
In the past year 119 objects taken from the background of images of child sexual abuse have been published on Europol’s website. Whether a regular, caring citizen or an online community working together, you have provided us with almost 21 000 tips on the origins of those objects.
Every single tip you send us is useful, as it can help to identify or locate an object which will then be subject to further investigation. Sometimes the object is too widely distributed to be of use, but this can also be worthwhile because it allows the experts to concentrate on other leads instead. So far you have helped us identify 79 objects in total; in 32 cases we were able to determine the likely country of production.
Based on the information you provided, investigations are currently ongoing in several countries. These investigations take time and have to follow a judicial process. We try our best to ensure the child in the related image has the best chance of being identified and safeguarded – this explains why we have not been frequent in our feedback to you. We can however tell you that two victims in Russia have been identified because of your leads about an object in this campaign. While the photos date back to over a decade, it is only thanks to your help that the investigation into the offender can now progress.
Today, on the first anniversary of this project, 11 new objects have been uploaded to Europol’s website. We only ask you for a few seconds of your time. With your help, your contributions and tips you are making it possible for a child who thinks they have been forgotten, that may have lost hope, to know that someone cared enough to take time to rescue them.