Community called on to help police ‘trace objects’ to halt child abuse

A successful Europol ‘Trace an Object’ campaign to help save children from child abuse is being initiated in Australia. Photo: Australian Federal Police.

 

THE Australian Federal Police (AFP) has released images extracted from child sexual abuse cold cases under a world-leading project to rescue more children from abuse.

The ‘Stop Child Abuse – Trace an Object’ initiative is publishing nine non-confrontational images that can be seen in child exploitation material, such as pieces of clothing or bedding.

Investigators believe the victims are in the Asia Pacific region, including Australia, and are calling on the public to view the images and contact the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) if they recognise the objects.

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The project was developed and launched in March by the ACCCE, and is based on the highly-successful initiative devised by Europol.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale said the images released were from cases investigators were yet to solve.

“No child is ever forgotten and investigators never give up,” Assistant Commissioner Gale said.

“Child sexual abuse is abhorrent and we need every member of the community to be our eyes and ears to help police save victims and arrest perpetrators.

“Please look at the images at visit https://www.accce.gov.au/report/trace.”

Assistant Commissioner Gale said the images include pieces of clothing, furniture and household items.

“If you recognise an object and any details about its origin – be it from a shop, location or time period – please report it via the ACCCE website,” she said.

“You can do so securely and anonymously.

“Your small tip could be the information we need to rescue a child from significant harm.”

The public can also follow the ACCCE on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on objects uploaded to the website.

Assistant Commissioner Gale said the ACCCE’s world-leading Victim Identification Unit examines the most abhorrent material imaginable, frame by frame, looking for clues and commonalities.

Team Leader of Europol’s Analysis Project Twins Cathal Delaney said their ongoing initiative has so far resulted in the removal of ten children from harm and arrest of three offenders, with authorities overseas receiving 26,000 tips, identifying 102 objects and launching several ongoing investigations.

“Europol launched Trace an Object in 2017 to use the reach of the internet to help investigators identify the victims of child sexual exploitation,” Mr Delaney said.

“Thanks to the tips received through the platform, we have so far been able to rescue with our partners ten children, victims of the most horrific kind of abuse.

“These children would not have been identified if it were not for Trace an Object.”

The production of child sexual abuse material is getting worse, and on an industrial scale.

In the early-to-mid 2000s, a child sex offender had about 1,000 images, now it’s estimated to be between 10,000 to 80,000 images and videos.

In 2020, the AFP charged 191 people with 1,847 alleged child abuse-related offences (between 1 January and 31 December 2020) and removed 89 children from harm.

The ACCCE is committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse, and is at the centre of a collaborative national approach to combatting organised child abuse.

The ACCCE brings together specialist expertise and skills in a central hub, supporting investigations into child sexual abuse and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.

You can view the nine images on the ACCCE website, and can report inappropriate behaviour towards children online via the Report Abuse button.

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