AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw met with INTERPOL Secretary General Mr Jürgen Stock in November to announce the AFP’s $815,000 contribution to INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation Database (ICSE).
The ICSE is a ground-breaking tool to advance child exploitation investigations through strengthened global information sharing. The AFP’s funding is delivered under the Australian Government’s National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse.
The AFP is delivering a range of initiatives under the National Strategy to enhance law enforcement capabilities and operational efforts and to drive a collaborative national response to counter the exploitation of children.
Commissioner Kershaw said the AFP’s partnership with INTERPOL to support the upgrade of the database highlights the commitment of law enforcement to protect children around the world, while bringing offenders to justice. “We know we can’t win this important battle alone. Child protection investigations will be bolstered, avoiding duplication of effort by triaging online child exploitation material multiple times in multiple jurisdictions,” he said.
“This specialised tool means our investigators will be faster and more efficient than ever before, allowing them to quickly target, track and disrupt those seeking to harm and exploit children around the world - and most importantly, bring them to justice.”
“The AFP is proud to partner with INTERPOL, along with our state, Commonwealth and international law enforcement counterparts, to combat this insidious crime.”
The enhanced database is expected to significantly fast track the high volume of work undertaken by victim identification specialists, through integration of the latest technologies for improved text, audio and video analysis, facial recognition, and artificial intelligence.
INTERPOL Secretary General Mr Jürgen Stock said, “The AFP’s decision to provide this funding underlines its strong and unwavering commitment to child protection, as well as its confidence in INTERPOL’s ICSE database which is a vital policing tool.
“We are seeing a consistent, and worrying, increase in the amount of online child sexual abuse and exploitation material, where every image is evidence of a crime. Only through global cooperation, supported by the latest technologies can law enforcement effectively work to identify and rescue victims around the world.”
Launched 13 years ago and utilised by 68 countries worldwide, the ICSE database has identified more than 31,000 victims to date, including 860 victims in Australia. More than 14,000 offenders have been tracked and arrested by law enforcement, including 349 offenders in Australia.
On average, around seven victims are identified every day.
The ACCCE Victim Identification Unit (VIU) acts as the conduit between Australian state and territory law enforcement agencies and the ICSE database.
In May 2022, the ACCCE VIU hosted the third National Victim Identification Taskforce, during which more than 3,500 files were de-conflicted against the ICSE database, with images from 55 newly-identified victims added for potential identification.
Commissioner Kershaw also used the meeting with Secretary General Stock to provide a copy of Jack Changes the Game – the new picture book developed by the ACCCE and AFP to help start conversations about online safety with young children.