Europol Releases Images Of Everyday Objects Filmed In Background Of Shocking Pedophile Videos

June 2, 2017
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The Europol police agency has recently shared images of everyday objects featured in the background of lurid child pornography videos in the hope of tracking down pedophiles and victims of child sex abuse.

The images include things like a distinctive T-shirt, snow-covered trees, a plastic bag and some unfamiliar cleaning products.

The images were posted on a new site titled Stop Child Abuse – Trace an Object, in an appeal for information which officials hope will narrow down the locations of the child sexual abuse taking place across Europe.

‘These are mundane objects which can sometimes end up being a key lead in an investigation, resulting in the victims’ identification and rescue,’ says Steven Wilson, chief of Europol’s EC3 Cybercrime centre based in The Netherlands.

There are even distinctive markings on a victim’s clothes, such as a kitten or a unicorn, or a picture of a snow-filled field with homes in the background, believed to have been taken by a victim.

‘We’re looking to identify particular parts, particular items in there that may be unique to a particular region in the world, a particular country or even a particular town or village,’ Wilson added.

“From that we can then work very closely with other law enforcement authorities and actually identify the people responsible for this.Once the origin of an object is identified, Europol will work with the relevant police forces in a country and hopefully that will lead to the identification of the victim and the arrest of the offender,” added Wilson.

The website – www.europol.europa.eu/stopchildabuse is designed to enable anonymous tip-offs and will be continuously updated.

 ‘The most innocent clues can sometimes help crack a case. The objects are all taken from the background of an image with sexually explicit material involving minors. For all images below, every other investigative avenue has already been examined” says the site.

It continues “Therefore we are requesting your assistance in identifying the origin of some of these objects.  We are convinced that more eyes will lead to more leads and will ultimately help to save these children. Can you help us recognise the objects? We specifically want to trace their origin (location/country). You can help by clicking on an object you recognise and providing Europol with the information you have on the object. This can be done anonymously.Once the origin of an object is identified, we will inform the competent law enforcement authority of the involved country to further investigate this lead and hopefully speed up the identification of both the offender and the victim.’ 

 They add: ‘The increasing global availability of broadband internet and internet-enabled devices continues to fuel the growing number of child sex offenders and victims.The internet provides offenders and potential offenders with an environment in which they can operate with an enhanced level of safety and anonymity ‘Law enforcement all over the world is working closely together to identify as many offenders and victims as possible. This identification process is often very complex and the identification of small objects in the background of these images can lead to a breakthrough in the investigation.’

Last year, Europol warned that online child pornography – including live-streaming of child sexual abuse – was increasing. In the Netherlands, a recent newspaper report said Dutch police for the first time describe child pornography as a ‘national threat.’

Paedophile networks commonly use the ‘Dark Web’ as well as the Tor encryption system to cover up their identities and distribute child sex abuse images online.

‘The Victim Identification Task Force held at Europol has repeatedly shown the significant possibilities of rescuing victims of child abuse through experts working together analysing abuse image. In many of these cases the key breakthrough has been established through a small piece of information such asidentification of objects in the background of the image that provide a vital clue to investigators. This innovative project seeks to use the global reach of the internet to allow the public to contribute to this investigation process and to play a real part in the global prevention of child abuse. Remember, your help can provide the one piece of information that leads to the rescue of a child.” says Europol chief Rob Wainwright.

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