International experts meet to collaborate against child sexual predators

9 September 2011

The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), one of the world's largest international child protection taskforces, met at the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France this week to explore new techniques to protect children from online sexual abuse.

Experts from all nine international VGT law enforcement agencies were at the two-day meeting (8 - 9 September), which followed a three-day gathering of the INTERPOL specialist group on crimes against children which brought together experts from 52 countries.

Chair of the VGT and Australian Federal Police (AFP) Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan, presented to the specialist group, emphasising that law enforcement can not prosecute its way out of this crime in isolation.

“Part of the answer to combating online child sexual exploitation lies in forging greater international partnerships, particularly cooperation with industry, the private sector and non government organisations.

“Through the Virtual Global Taskforce and our partners we can identify strategies to jointly combat this horrendous crime and bring these predators to justice,” Assistant Commissioner Gaughan said.

One of the highlights of Assistant Commissioner Gaughan’s presentation was the announcement of the VGT draft resolution proposed for the 80th INTERPOL General Assembly in Hanoi, Vietnam later in the year.

The specialist group were briefed on the proposal which derived from the 2010 VGT conference outcome, to assist and guide countries around the world requiring child protection legislation. The group supported the proposal and acknowledged the work undertaken by the VGT collaboration.

The specialist group throughout the three-day deliberations also addressed the use of Green Notices, an INTERPOL tool developed to assist in the identification of travelling sex offenders, preventing offending around the world.

The issue has previously been raised with the VGT and: ‘under appropriate circumstances the VGT supports the proportionate use of INTERPOL Green Notices for suspected or convicted individuals of child sex offences travelling outside of their home country, giving due considerations to individual legislative and administrative constraints. The VGT further recommends that countries who experience legislative and administrative constraints with the issuance of Green Notices work towards reform that will allow their use.'

New VGT industry partners include The End Child Prostitution Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes network (ECPAT International), International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE), the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) and the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Members of the VGT include the Australian Federal Police, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (UK), the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Italian Postal and Communication Police Service, INTERPOL, Ministry of Interior for the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand Police and Europol.

The VGT was established in 2003 to fight online child abuse, and aims to dismantle global online child sexual exploitation networks, coordinate covert internet investigations, share and develop intelligence and target child sex offenders.

The VGT website was re-launched in June, streamlining the Report Abuse function, which now allows any person anywhere in the world to report suspected online child abuse by directly linking them to the relevant VGT member agency’s reporting web page or email address. For more information, visit