With the scale of child sexual exploitation and abuse increasing, specialists from around the globe have gathered to enhance the collective global response.
Over four days (March 14 – 17), the INTERPOL Specialists Group on Crimes Against Children is engaging participants in global efforts and technical solutions to combat online child sexual abuse, identify victims and their attackers, and disrupt criminal networks involved in producing and circulating abusive content.
The event sees some 98 participants from 54 countries, regional and international organizations, the private sector, NGOs and academia come together for the first time since the COVID pandemic to share best practices across countries and sectors.
These exchanges are essential to keeping up with the modus operandi of offenders, who continually seek to exploit children while benefiting from the anonymity of the online environment and from new applications and platforms.
Opening the conference, INTERPOL Executive Director of Police Services Stephen Kavanagh underscored the importance of global efforts in fighting crimes against children:
“Practitioners in this crime area deal with a unique set of challenges in the cases they investigate, in the tools they develop, in the material they handle. Combating online child sexual abuse is a key crime area for INTERPOL and we are making efforts to strengthen and enlarge its Crimes Against Children unit, its activities and its sustainability to deliver strong global results that target the latest challenges.”
Mr Kavanagh noted the need to elevate the abilities of national police, focusing on technical expertise and capacity to carry out more effective investigations for crimes against children.
“This meeting is also a chance for service providers, vendors and other partners to engage with law enforcement and build their understanding of current threats so that tools and safety measures can be updated to confront trends and do the utmost to prevent abuse before it occurs,” added Mr Kavanagh.
Stressing the complexity and scale of crimes against children, Ilana de Wild, Director, Organized and Emerging Crime, called on member countries to establish specialized units, which can make daily use of INTERPOL’s resources such as the International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database.
“We are all dedicated to identifying victims of abuse and to date more than 27,000 victims and more than 12,000 offenders worldwide have been documented in the ICSE database. This is critically important work,” concluded Ms de Wild.