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Crimes against children

Crimes against children tend to be local crimes with the vast majority taking place within the home or family circle.  There are, however, a number of areas where there is an international angle:  

  • Internet crimes: crimes against children are facilitated by the Internet, the increased use of which in recent years has led to a huge rise in offending. Not only can offenders distribute and access child abuse material more easily, but they can also come into direct contact with children – via chatrooms and social networking sites. We run a project in conjunction with Internet Access Service Providers to block access to child abuse material online
  • Travelling sex offenders: also known as “sex tourism”, this type of crime involves the abuse of children in developing countries by people who travel there. The relative wealth of the offender coupled with lack of understanding or effective legislation means that the abuse of children is easier in these countries. This type of crime is linked to child trafficking, organized crime and murder.

These types of crimes represent a huge challenge for police worldwide and require specialized skills and increased resources. At INTERPOL, we encourage investigators around the world to make maximum use of our tools and services.

  • Victim identification: we work to identify the victims of child sexual abuse depicted in photographs and films. This involves a combination of traditional investigative methods and image analysis. Crucial to this work is the International Child Sexual Exploitation image database which uses sophisticated image comparison software to make connections between victims and places.
  • Yellow Notices: at the request of a member country, INTERPOL can issue a yellow notice to help locate missing persons, especially minors. These notices are circulated on an international basis and recorded in INTERPOL's database of missing and abducted children.
  • Green Notices: At the request of a National Central Bureau or an international entity, INTERPOL can issue a Green Notice to warn about a person’s criminal activities, where
    • the person is considered to be a possible threat to public safety
    • a national law enforcement agency has assessed the threat
    • the conclusion is based on one or more previous convictions or on other reasonable grounds
  • Blue Notices: At the request of a National Central Bureau or an international entity, INTERPOL can issue a Blue Notice to locate, identify or obtain information on a possible criminal history or any other information relevant to investigation.

We also provide training and promote best practice to police in our member countries. We bring together experts in the INTERPOL Specialists Group on Crimes against Children. Formed in 1992, this group consists of a number of sub-groups dealing with particular issues and chaired by investigators from around the world.

A comprehensive training portfolio continues to be developed and refined which addresses the broad spectrum of needs across the international crimes against children law enforcement community. There is a particular focus on capacity development initiatives to be implemented in the most at-risk regions, such as South America, Africa and South-East Asia, with the support of regional crimes against children placements and other INTERPOL assets.

While many countries have child protection and special victims units, a minority have specialized staff able to investigate online child sexual abuse cases or perform victim identification. Recognizing that sexual abuse of children occurs in all countries and societies, a core function of the crimes against children team is therefore to help develop policing capabilities in our member countries. To this end, the crimes against children team has deployed officers to the Regional Bureaus of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Lobang (Thailand), as well as the IGCI in Singapore. Since June 2017, focal points have also been implemented in all four African Regional Bureaus. These officers have been trained for an understanding of services, training programs and other supports available to them through the crimes against children unit, and are tasked to set up activities and project development in their respective regions. A key component of their work will be to implement a training module for countries ready for connection to ICSE, but lacking specialization in online investigations to generate their own cases.

In addition, we work closely with many other agencies, both governmental and non governmental, in this area and are involved in many training programmes and other projects worldwide. In particular, we work in partnership with CIRCAMP (the COSPOL Internet Related Child Abuse Material Project) and the Virtual Global Taskforce.

It is worth noting that we avoid using the term "child pornography" when describing images of sexual abuse of children. Other, more appropriate terminology includes the term "child sexual abuse material".

Infographics

INTERPOL's International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database

8 steps to identifying victims of child sexual abuse