The UK Home Office has launched a national Child Abuse Image Database to help police share information and speed up the identification of both child victims of sexual abuse and their abusers.
The database allows 46 police forces and law enforcement agencies to share information about cases, search seized devices for explicit material and quickly search for and differentiate between known and unseen material.
New material is usually of particular concern as it suggest new abuse – and police need to focus their attentions on those cases.
The database – which will only be accessed by authorised officers – will have tools to quickly collect, forensically analyse and correlate child sexual abuse material in a secure environment.
The launch comes after reports have revealed
that individuals with a sexual interest in children who produce and distribute child abuse material are becoming more entrepreneurial – using hidden services like Tor, private peer-to-peer networks and digital currencies that are difficult to track, such as Bitcoin.
There is also a trend for abuse being carried out remotely on demand and then livestreamed back to paying customer.
These webcam sessions usually allow a paedophile to make requests for certain types of abuse to be carried out on their behalf – the victim can often be thousands of miles away in parts of the world where the law doesn’t protect children as well.
The database has been developed by the Home Office, along with NetClean, Husbtream and L-3 ASA.
NetClean’s Johann Hofmann described the system as “hugely exciting”.
“The joined-up investigative approach that the database enables will have a significant impact on how UK law enforcement tackles sexual crimes against children and puts the UK at the forefront of how to investigate this crime.”