International police co-operation leads to Amsterdam arrest of alleged serial child sexual abuser

13 December 2010

LYON, FranceAmsterdam police have launched a large investigation into a child sexual abuse case involving a preschool substitute teacher who as a result of international law enforcement co-operation via INTERPOL has been arrested on suspicion of molesting up to 50 very young children.

The investigation was launched after the image of a young boy was identified by his family following its broadcast on Dutch television on 7 December at the request of Dutch national police.

The victim’s image was originally part of a series depicting the rape of a child aged under five seized during an operation in the USA by officials from US ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and added to the International Child Sexual Exploitation database (ICSE) at INTERPOL’s General Secretariat in Lyon. The image was identified as a Dutch child by victim identification specialists of the KLPD Dutch national police after they received the image from INTERPOL’s Victim Identification network affiliated with ICSE.

Images from the same series of abuse had already been seized and added to the database by victim identification specialists from the National Child Exploitation Co-ordination Centre (NCECC) of the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) in Canada.

“This case is a clear demonstration of the fact that so-called ‘child pornography’ can only be produced through the actual sexual abuse of children and that the global trade in child sexual abuse material can only be effectively policed by international co-operation through global channels of the type facilitated by INTERPOL’s victim identification team,” stated the Director of INTERPOL’s Specialized Crime unit, Bernd Rossbach.

Dutch public prosecution officials have said the suspect, a 27-year-old man known as Robert M, has confessed to abusing dozens of children and that a large quantity of child sexual abuse images was also found at his home.

Managed by INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters, the International Child Sexual Exploitation image database (ICSE) is a powerful intelligence and investigative tool which allows victim identification specialists around the world to share data for analysis with a view to identifying and locating abused children.

Backed by the G8 and funded by the European Commission, ICSE is accessible to victim identification specialists through INTERPOL's secure I-24/7 global police communications system, and uses sophisticated image comparison software to make connections between victims and places.